Friday, March 26, 2021

That's How It goes

A year ago, right when Covid was on the uptick I got a call from my Dad. He had met up with an old friend to do some fishing and was calling me to invite me to join them. Big fish on every cast, easy fishing, time of your life, all the regular promises to get me out the door. Normally, it would've worked and I would've been packing before the phone call ended. However, this time was different because of all of the unknowns associated with Covid. I didn't go. Being cautious (mostly worried about getting someone else sick) and having tons of work to do since our school was going online for the foreseeable future both played into the decision. I've been regretting it ever since...

Having already had Covid and not infecting anyone, this year when the call came with almost the same story I was ready. Dad said the fishing was awesome on small orange bead-headed buggers retrieved slowly, so I hit the vice and tied up what I hoped would be enough.

I'm not sure why, but it's been quite a while since I've been fly fishing with my brother Weston. It's crazy because Weston and I used to fish together a lot, but I guess life gets in the way and our priorities and schedules just haven't lined up. It's not like we haven't been doing things together, including my one and only ice fishing trip this year, which was among the worst ice fishing trips I've ever had. We just haven't been fly fishing together in the last couple of years. 

Of course, when the plans were made the weather thought it could dissuade us. As late as 10:30 PM I was getting the screenshots of the weather reports followed by a text, "Are you sure you want to go?" and I quickly replied, "Yes." Basically, I'd rather go and maybe regret it than stay home and definitely regret it. The snow piling up on the highway had us all questioning this logic on the early morning drive. 

When we finally arrived Dad and I had to change into some warm clothes, but Weston hurried and got his rod together and started casting. It took a few minutes to get changed and rigged up, but Wes hadn't gotten anything. When I walked up to his spot he told me to give it a try (or maybe he didn't and I snaked him out of it...I can't remember) and on the second cast, I hooked into a great fish on a Purple Frenchie. 

Fishing wasn't fast, but we were getting a few on nymphs. Dad doesn't like to fish nymphs under an indicator and would much rather catch fish on streamers and tends to stick to it even if he's not getting any action. I think we all would rather fish a more active method, but catching fish is my priority. Even if that meant fishing a nymph rig with weight under an indicator. Dad was really insistent that we go back to where he had success a few days ago, I think he was hoping to get faster fishing and to catch some on the buggers. My hesitation was that you don't leave fish to find fish and where we were fishing was my favorite spot. I finally gave in and we headed to Dad's spot to see if the fishing was any better over there. 

Once we got to Dad's favorite spot he hooked into a fish that peeled out a bunch of line and promptly broke him off, getting our hopes up! It didn't take long for me and Wes to start finding some, but the action wasn't what Dad had earlier in the week. To me and Wes it seemed like fishing was great, but expectations couldn't live up to what Dad had been hoping for, though he did get some on an orange bead-headed bugger. 

When fishing here, if you have a spot to yourself there is the feeling that if you move you'll lose it, and there might not be anywhere to fish. So we stayed put for several hours, even when the snow and wind made it somewhat miserable. 

With the day winding down, and the fishing really slowing, we decided to head back to where we had started to see if the fish were more cooperative there. Luckily, there wasn't anyone in the spots that we wanted to try and fish. I picked up right where I'd left off, but this spot wasn't being too kind to Dad and Wes. I'm not sure why, but sometimes that's how it goes. With the day that we'd all had, I didn't feel too badly for them. 

A long drive through some bad weather is never a fun way to end the day, but sometimes it's worth it.  

Hope you're as lucky,


Monday, March 22, 2021

After Work

I might be the only one, but I love daylight savings! During the winter months, I often get home after, or near, dark which means there isn't any time to get outside before temperatures drop. This keeps me mostly indoors during the work week which isn't good for my mental health. So, when the time changes and temperatures are on their way up I try to take advantage as much as I can without endangering my marriage (not too much anyway).

On the docket today was one of the small streams in the area that holds fish. Ross was going to meet me on the water for the first fishing we've done together in way too long. Once Ross arrived and wader-ed up we made the hike down to the traditional starting point. It didn't take long for the first fish of the day to decide that he liked the look of my Purple Frenchie. Not a big fish, but a great way to start the evening. 

We decided to head further downstream to some water that Ross hadn't been to in a while. Once we got as far down as we were going for the day Ross didn't waste any time in hooking up on a small brown on a pheasant tail and the action was decently consistent from there on up. As long as we got the flies into the prime spot without any drag, or hitting bottom, the fish were willing. As we worked our way upstream I couldn't help but recall how much the river has changed. There used to be a pool, one of my favorites, where I used to count on hooking into several fish that was now just a small riffle and a sandbar. Wildfires upstream caused tons of silt, ash, and debris, to run into the stream which has changed it significantly. Each year I'm shocked where the stream has made a major change, and very rarely has that change been for the better. But between the fire runoff and severely low water in the late summer, I should probably just be glad that this stream has any fish in it. 

Ross had to take off before I was ready to call it quits, but really I should've just left with him because fishing took a turn for the worse shortly after he left. Not surprising since the sun was setting and the temperatures were dropping. I'm not sure if these little excursions help me to relieve stress, or to be a better teacher, but I'm pretty sure they don't hurt! I'm looking forward to getting out again as soon as possible. 

Hope you're as lucky,


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Not The Same

There's always the desire to re-create success. However, sometimes it's best to move on and find new successes because no matter how good the second time is it can't live up to your memories. But with the success of the last trip (read about that Here) I couldn't wait to get back to the stream where we had such fast action. So, I was on my way to Jeff's house in the early morning with thoughts of lots of trout to be caught and even some hopes for some larger fish. 

In preparation for the return trip, I made sure to replace some of the flies that we'd lost during the previous trip and a few extras so we had plenty. The Purple Frenchie that had been so productive was at the top of the list, but I also tied up a few other variations just in case purple wasn't the color of the day. 

Jeff was ready to roll when I arrived at his house, so we didn't waste any time to get to our first spot. This was a spot that we've heard holds some really nice fish at certain times of the year, so we wanted to be the first ones to hit it for the day. Once we were rigged up and started fishing a couple hundred sheep came up to get a drink. Luckily, they tend to stay out of the water so we weren't too worried about them spooking any fish. The complicated currents and deep water made getting a good drift difficult, but we were shocked when we had no strikes and saw no fish. With no signs of life, and having exhausted our fly choices, we decided to move to an area where we had lots of success the other day. It didn't take more than a few casts for Jeff to hook into fish and get the skunk off of the day. 

It certainly felt like the day was going to take off as Jeff hooked into another brown on the purple Frenchie and I was itching to get in on the action. We started working our way upstream to fish some of the bigger pools, but the fishing really seemed to slow down. We were still making contact, but not nearly as often as we had hoped. 

Something was definitely different so we turned over a few rocks and even pumped one fish's throat hoping to figure out what was going on to get our catch rate up. The fish were feeding on midge pupa that were very active, and plentiful. We changed up our flies to match the hatch and picked up a few more fish, but our catch rate didn't go up like we'd hoped. I'm not sure, but I think with so many flies available to the fish we only caught the ones that we happened to drift our tiny flies right to. With evening coming on Jeff caught one more fish in what seemed like would be our last hole of the day. 

We moved upstream to see what was around the bend and I saw something that I've been looking forward to since last fall, rising fish. These fish were spread out in shallow water sipping off the surface. I tied on some 6x tippet and connected it to a large Purple Haze to act as an indicator and tied an RS-2 emerger as a dropper. My leader was pushing 14 feet long with some fine tippet, so I was shocked when the first fish that I worked up to spooked. I didn't think that my set-up needed any adjustment, so I approached the next fish as stealthily as I could and made sure to not let my leader land where the fish was feeding. While he didn't spook, the fish also didn't buy what I was selling and before I could switch out my dropper all the fish in the pool stopped rising. 

Rather than re-rig and try to dredge up one more fish we decided to call it and make the walk back to the truck. The fishing was less than what we'd hoped for, but it was a good day on the water with good company and we even found a few willing fish. Who could ask for more? 

Hope you're as lucky,


Monday, March 8, 2021

Get Away With

I don't really like adjudicating music festivals, but when you get asked to do a small festival in the town where your brother lives you agree to do it. When that town is also near a pretty good trout stream that just happens to be in the best shape that it will probably be in all year, it makes it worth it. So, on Wednesday night I loaded all my fishing gear into the truck so that I could teach a couple of classes in the morning, go judge the jazz festival, and then get some much-needed time on the stream with my brother Jeff. 

It felt good to hear some bands and talk to other music directors, but when the festival was over I was more than ready to hit the stream. I met Jeff at his house and we headed to a stream where I've had quite a bit of success in the past. At the first stop, we pulled our waders on and rigged up our flyrods. The recent success of the Purple Frenchie made it a first choice, and it went on the line with a San Juan worm as a blind guess that the fish might be willing to eat these. Jeff let me have first shot at the pool and I started working line off my reel. I flipped my leader out to keep the flies from getting stuck around my feet and a small rainbow ate the purple Frenchie. A good sign!

I set Jeff up with a purple Frenchie and he started working the pool. It took a minute for him to settle in and get a good hook set, but the strikes were coming pretty regularly. We traded off fish in that pool until we either hooked or spooked all the willing fish. 

We decided to move to another area to see if we could find a little better size of fish and to explore a little more of Jeff's home water. He hasn't done too much fly fishing, but every time we go out he's getting better at dealing with different situations. This time, it seemed like it all came together and he didn't have any trouble casting a heavy nymph rig with multiple flies, an indicator, and weight. So I wasn't surprised when he was hooked up again. 

The action wasn't quite as fast in the new spot, but the fish were a little better sized. Jeff hooked into a nice rainbow but his net man (me) was on the other side of the stream and he couldn't quite hand-land the fish. I managed a decent little brown while I was over there and had to do the old one-handed picture.

I've always felt like this stream should hold some bigger fish, but all we caught were these little to medium-sized trout. Not complaining, but I think this water is holding a few secrets that we're going to have to work to figure out. 

Lately, I've had a few people ask me how I manage to fish so much. I usually reply that I don't fish nearly enough, but I just get as much time on the water as I can get away with. 

Hope you're as lucky,