Monday, June 21, 2010

The Receding Limb

Searched out some decent water yesterday. Recent series of rain events has saturated the ground down here. We're not in any sort of flood or high water condition, but we're getting horizontal movement of water over land. We've been fortunate over the past couple years to have very minimal incidence of blown out streams. Last few days though some watersheds were pushed past their tipping points and their respective streams got turbid. Usually though unless things are really bad a guy can find somewhere to fish.

First choice was pretty turbid: clarity 8-10 inches or so. Because I was there, and no one else was there, I fished it anyway, with a streamer that included some flash. Mildly surprised to find a few fish rapped that thing... But then thinking about it - shouldn't be that surprised. I know people catch fish from turbid water. I remember sitting on a ATV bridge back in ~2003 and the stream beneath me was so thick with sediment that it looked like a solid. Eating a sandwich though and looking around... and up jumps a trout - right from the main flow. Mystery. I also recall seeing pics of guys holding trout while standing in pretty brown water. So it can be done and I did a bit of it but it really wasn't too enjoyable. And it was a little dangerous because you can't see where you are placing your feet. Just about fell in over my waders. Put a trout in my creel and moved on.

Second choice was pretty clear but also really small water. Never fished it before yesterday. Got a great look but no strike from a nice fish holding in the bridge hole. Then walked downstream in explore mode. Turned around and walk back. Needed to be done. Now I've walked part of that stream and I know about what it is.

On to third option, which I'd checked the night before. 100% expected people to be there because (1) it was a clear water oasis, and (2) it's a popular stream. Found no cars. Somewhat dumb-struck. Jumped in and did my old routine from days of way back when I used to fish this water all the time. Worked up through a series of holes, jumped out and walked a road back... and then fished a bit below where I'd started.

Notes:

(1) The receding limb is a really good time to fish, IMO. You get a little higher water, with just a little turbidity, which gives you as the fisherman much needed camoflauge. You can't always time this just right, but on the occasions it's worked for me, the results have been memorable. Yesterday was memorable.

(2) Nymphing can be just sickeningly good. I've been fairly caught up in whining about no hatches and trying to fish dry flies and fishing streamers, etc. I like all that but on this day I wanted to go back to the deadly lethal stinging method of tandem rig nymphing. Felt good and worked like it always does. Two split shot, two nymphs (one of which is always an orange scud) and one strike indicator. Get down deep to where the fish are and watch that indicator twitch.

(3) And speaking of twitching: that action on the nymphs is deadly. Makes a deadly rig deadlier. Scuds don't drift as much as the scoot and scit here and there. When the rig got into the fish zone I would often give a little mend or twitch and I found that to induce strikes in many cases. I picture a little scud maybe unseen or lost in the suspended detritus... and then scooot and then oh, look at that - better eat it...

(4) Some number of years ago at this very stream a guy with a pool cue spinning rod and a slip bobber rig sat in plain sight of me while I was fishing and filled his stringer with a limit of browns in the 12-16" range. Took him maybe half an hour. STuck in my mind because he made me feel stupid. I can still see his mechanics and his face staring at that bobber. Expressionless as fish were removed from hook. Anyway - on this day, it worked the other way. In plain sight of an unidentified fishing person, I walked up, flipped the nymph rig in the current (without allowing too much detail here, I can say that I was not invading his space - I was just in his viewscape) and on first cast caught a trout. Second cast caught a trout. Five minutes later landed a beautiful fish ~16". Minutes later another trout. Minutes later two brook trout, one of which ~11-12". Minutes later connected with another big fish and I figured the guy was going to throw his buzz bait at me. To make it worse his wife was behind him in a chair, reading a book. She may have been smiling, watching this go down. Not sure. So here I was feeling good. ANd that's a commentary on me and also on humanity in general. I'm just an imperfect goon like everybody else who for some unknown reason feels better when he tops somebody else. Not sure why but it's like that. It's not as though that made my day or anything - hell - my day was already made... but it solicited from me a sly grin or two (out of sight) under my ball cap and glasses. Admittedly, part of it goes to the spinning vs fly fishing competition that the spinning guys usually win... and so when the fly rod shines, it kind of feels good. ANd I'll tell you that 2 wt was shinin' like a MF.

(5) Can't say for sure how many trout were caught, but I estimate: 6 fish in the audience situation, 4 others kept, at least 6 dinks and at least 3-4 other fish that were too big too keep. So may have approached 20 now that I think about it.

A number of beautifully spotted, strong fish in the 11-12" range like this one. They really work that 2 wt:


Good water here: nice broken run, a little high, little turbid:

Sweet hole: any woody debris situation parallel to current... solid. This produced fish:

Pretty big trout here. When I first got it to hand I thought it was maybe 17-18". And if I were a guy who guessed and didn't measure that's what I'd say. But I marked it on my rod at measured at home: right around 16". I will say this though: it was a fat 16 - not a snakey trout at all. Beautiful fish. Couldn't easily grab with one hand. Had another one on at least this big... battled for maybe 60 seconds and the fish simply snapped my 5x tippet. Been a while since a trout has done that - felt pretty good. Saw it before it broke off: nice fish. Still a nice fish.


Nice brook trout. Somewhere around 11-12":

Morning harvest:

Afternoon harvest:


Geez - needed that outing. Solid numbers, quality fish, some big fish, some brook trout, and a 4/5 full creel (couldn't get that last fish - in an odd twist I had a run of fish that were either (1) too big to keep, or (2) brook trout).

34 Comments:

Anonymous winonaflyfactory said...

Awesome, felt good to read about a successful trout run. Thanks for that. I got out this morning for 3 hours, lost seven fish that were hooked. Lost the big fish, landed a few small ones. Need something like you've shown here. Maybe this weekend/next week. jonesing...

Glad you had a good fathers day. Take care man.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous winonaflyfactory said...

4/5 not bad at all. Especially if your hooking into brookies and the larger browns. Read this again wanting to get on a good nymphable run and sit for a bit.

That larger fish looks quite nice, and the larger brookie couldn't ask for more. Nice work.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Thanks for the F-day note. Hope you can get out soon. Would be good to meet up somewhere...

And FYI: chopping onions and mincing garlic right now while drinking beer. Preheating oven for those four trout. And boiling beets.

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Anonymous Casey Mattson said...

Nice fishing. I am heading to SF Root River by Pterson, MN this weekend. Hope to have some success, maybe head to Rush Creek as well in Rushford.

Envious of your pictures. :)

Nice work, keep it up.

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