Thursday, August 25, 2011

Center of the Earth: the Old Water, August Morning

Like most nights prior to early morning fishing departure: not restful sleep. Laying on the couch to avoid waking anyone while slipping out. August so no covers; windows open to fullest; night sounds filtering in. Pretty good really. Used to fret about not getting enough sleep but now don’t really care that much. Used to put on that the only time I slept on the couch was before fishing. But we all know that's not the case. 4:05 AM was the target. Ultraviolet dreams leading up to that – the kind you have as you pass in and out of sleep. One that struck me as completely tangible was an episode in which the neighborhood kids were all hovering right there outside the window, only it was bright light out there. One boy kept looking in at me and saying something. I may have risen from the couch and looked out the window. Some other bright light stuff and various things that I know I know and remember but I can’t quite bring them to the forefront. All this leading up to 4:05 AM which came soon enough. All I did was roll off the couch, turn a burner on underneath my oney coffee pot, pull on some pants. Picked up my bag, rod and coffee and walked outside and stood in the middle of the street. Getting cool now as the hottest summer days are gone. You feel a little cool in the mornings now but you know you can roll with the light shirts still. No waders. Pretty light gear really. And WFF rolled up with his gal (bless her for her cooperation, coordination and understanding). So we were two guys left in the middle of the road at 4:30 AM.

The fishing was well-paced, highly pleasurable. We were walking on what is widely considered a blue ribbon trout stream, nested as a gem in the crown of SE MN Driftless Area. Bedrock controls, cold water, good pasture, good fish. We tried to force trico spinners on fish for a while. Then switched to nymphs. Then switched back. Did you come here to fish nymphs? Was a question at one point. But then later: I don’t think we can justify fishing these dries over the top of all this good water. Etc. etc. Classic case of indecision but there’s nothing wrong with that. We went back and forth. The #20-22 dry flies did produce some fish. Interestingly, they worked the best in water that did not show the thick trico clouds above, hovering and suddenly zipping horizontally… they worked in the best where we saw sparse or no tricos. The thought there is that in the thick of it the fish were keyed to a specific stage of the trico cycle, and we weren’t on it just right. Maybe in the water that wasn’t boiling with takes, the fish were aware of the ambient condition and looking up, but more willing to take what came their way. Some mystery involved and it should always be that way. We don’t need to figure it all out to enjoy it. In the end we got some great takes on tiny dry flies. Maybe 6-8 fish to hand using that method.

Late morning brought me back to the old crutch of nymphing. Only this was such a good day and cool and vibrant morning shed of cares that even a dog cynic grouch like me didn’t look at nymphing as a crutch this time: rather, I looked at it as a return to my old fishing method. I used to nymph like a madman, everywhere and all the time. So I rigged up the classic SE MN flies – nothing fancy – with split shot and indicator. And was subsequently reminded why I used to do it so often: it’s flat out deadly. And we didn’t even fish nymphs that hard, or for that long. Where we placed them in the water, we caught fish. For ~45 minutes I stood in a 5 foot circle, in the shade, at the base of a limestone cliff face. Across the stream was a beautiful gray belly-hole, with a rock ledge on the far side. We could see fish flashing in there. All along the bottom. Most drifts through that hole produced a strike. Most of those produced a hooked fish. And most of those got a fish to hand. I could see in my mind those fish down there. Not sure how many were caught from that hole but it was well into double digits. Other fish came from other good water. Done by noon and back home.

There were some notable firsts and lasts on this outing:
(1) New line for the 2 wt. DT. Nice.
(2) Old Blue Car became a member of WFF family. I love the car and it is pretty well woven through with good fishing memories. Thus, good to know it will stay active in Driftless Area undertakings.
(3) In exchange, new guitar. Need some time on it this winter as I’d hate to see it stand in the corner with a negative vibe.

Finally: I have no camera for a while, so these pics credited to WFF. And thanks for another good August outing.