Monday, July 12, 2021

Reality Check

It's a tough idea to follow through with, that if you find success you shouldn't try to recreate it again because it almost never works out. But if you knew where a bunch of big fish were hanging out for a while wouldn't you try and go after them again? It makes it even more tempting when you know that this situation doesn't last all year and any day could be the last. Super low, clear water added another level of challenge to the fishing where dropping down to lighter tippet really isn't an option. While a lighter tippet would definitely result in more hookups, it would decrease the number of fish landed and you'd definitely have to play fish longer which would result in higher mortality rates. 

So, heavy tippets with strong hooks so that every hookup would be followed by a quick fight and a fish in the net with as little stress as possible. We worked together as a team, spotting fish, watching drifts, and calling out when a fish took a fly. Once a fish was hooked, like my first of the day, the other guy quickly grabbed the net and moved into position. 

With a fish landed, it was Lane's turn, so we switched spots and I worked as spotter to try and get him into a fish. It didn't take long before Lane hooked up on his first of the day. 

We took our time, since we had a suspicion that the further we went upstream the fewer fish we would see. A perfect cast was needed to get them interested in eating, only to get them interested but it didn't mean that they would eat it. 

Out of one run, I caught a nice fish, one that would be fish of the day/week/year anywhere else. Lane followed up with a nice fish that was easily his best of the day right after that. 

It was again my turn, so I crawled up into casting position and did my best to get a fish to eat my streamer. Bow and arrow casts and lots of patience finally get me connected to a great fish, but trying to get him out from under the willows to where I could play him effectively was too much and he came off. In the few seconds that Lane and I discussed what had gone wrong another fish (even bigger) moved into range and without thinking about turns I flipped my fly towards the fish. It took a couple of tries before he finally opened his mouth. I set the hook and immediately started backing up downstream to try and get enough line out so that I could actually fight the fish. As I was backing up Lane made a quick move forward with the net and had the fish landed before it really had a chance to show off it's impressive stature.

Instantly, the guilt of not trading off fish set in even though Lane assured me that he wasn't too worried about it. Once I started getting the fish into a good spot for a picture I realized that this was an amazing catch. We marked his length on the net at somewhere between 26 and 27 inches, and in the guessed weight range of 7 pounds. A new personal best cutthroat for me.

We spotted a couple other fish but nothing was really in a spot that we could fish to them. We knew that fishing this stream was over for the year and hoped that next year we could meet some of these fish again, but with the low water there's always the possibility of these fish not making it until next year. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. So, instead of calling it a day we decided to make the drive back to reality and fish a stream with normal-sized fish. Before we knew it we were lengthening our leaders and tapering them down to 5x, using flies that seemed extra tiny, and casting to finicky fish. 

We caught some really nice fish on size 20 flies and it was refreshing to try and match a hatch and have some uncertainty. We still sight-fished as much as possible and still worked together taking turns to catch fish. The change was refreshing.

I know that there's a lot of fishermen that have trouble fishing for smaller fish after being spoiled. I've heard of people that can't fish locally and be happy after going to a place that holds lunkers. But for me, catching these nice-sized, challenging fish was just as fun as catching the mega trout on "Secret Stream". I'm looking forward to hitting the high country, using my new boat, and getting as much out of this summer as I possibly can. 

Hope you're as lucky,  

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