Been thinking about this day and this fish; here is some further detail on it.
For approximately 40 minutes, had been fishing a series of man-made plunge pools. Most of them are headed by a log, set in place across the current; approximately perpendicular to the flow. I don’t fish this stretch too often, because it is C&R only. But in winter, that is an insignificant regulation, given that entire SE MN is C&R only. These HI holes are markedly different than the natural (some may say “impacted”) holes. They look and feel really deep to me. So much so that I would consider jumping in one in the summer and finding the bottom with my feet or maybe a buckthorn sounding pole. I imagine they are outstanding refuges for fish; probably hundreds of trout in each, hanging in the bottom-most stratum. The note here though is that your nymphing technique has to change quite a bit to fish these HI holes. The most obvious driver of this need to change is that fact that there is a log in the way of your typical drift; you are disallowed from throwing your tandem rig way upstream and letting the nymphs get down. You are thus forced to drop your rig at the point of plunge, use some holding and mending per current and seams, and try to get down that way. My suspicion is that I was doing a very poor job of this back on January 7. This was supported by the fact that nearly all of the eight or so fish I brought to hand were caught either at the transition from pool body to tail, or in the tail itself. I simply couldn’t get down at the pool head. Bugs me a little bit. I drifted over a lot of trout.
The first fish of calendar year 2013 was caught in a deep slot; a piece of water that didn’t have one of the logs at the head, and appeared to stay deep and undercut for a good length. It was maybe 10 feet down from the point of plunge that I hooked it. The nymphs had a chance to sink and swirl in the current a bit. The fact that he took the lead nymph told me that I was probably down about where I needed to be. I was using an indicator primarily as a depth regulator (which could be discussed at length in the context of previous statements regarding the deep HI holes); don’t recall exactly what kind of signal I got to set the hook. Picking up the rod though and feeling that fish was highly memorable; narcotic you could say. An older fish; been in that water for a good long time I think; probably eaten flies in the past (right top jaw looks like it is scarred)… holding in that good current making his way through various food items. This one was a tool fly (to take a term from out west, John M.): a scud hook wrapped in nymphy chenille, with an oversized bead. Meant to carry the smaller scud down to the stream bottom. It is a 2x strong #14 scud hook and that plays into the story: not sure how a #16 fine wire hook would have held this fish. Surely folks land big fish on small flies. But this was a really solid, biting connection. The hook gap allowed the fly to actually “couple” the outer lip and in that way hold really well. The mathematics of hook gaps is a subject that I daydream on quite a bit. Clearly there are maxima, minima and optima. After hooking, this fish held close to the bottom and ran up and down a 15-20 foot span of stream maybe 2-3 times. I didn’t see the fish body for maybe 20-30 seconds. Imagination being exponentially influenced according to each passing second. During that span he put himself on the reel and bowed the 2 wt. That rod adds to mystery in that most any decent sized trout can bow it. Ten inch fish have brought the rod tip near the water’s surface. Finally he rose and pushed a heavy S ripple at me; after gauging the size I walked downstream to a riffle (another note that is fairly specific to HI reaches: a lot of the water you won’t put your human body into; you need to site good landing points). The hook came out really well after pressure was gone; this fish was not beat up by my obsession with holding trout. I admired the indentation in the top jaw that receives the slight hook at the bottom. A little observation and cradling and then this fish tailed away, back up to that deep slot. The fish are in the river and it is a necessity to confirm this now and again.
|Check the teeth.|