Thursday, March 20, 2014

Last Winter Outing 2014

If you are prepared to fish and at the precipice of doing so but something (water conditions, air temp, illness, guilt) is tugging you away, push through and at least give it a go.  At worst try something highly mobile and walk the stream for a while.  There is a written history that is wide in scope that documents successes that have come of such resolutions.  I was recently tested on this matter, finding stained and moderately turbid water, strong winds and cold air temps.  I did not feel obligated to fish.  The concept of sunken costs was in play and consideration was given to the fact that one is currently banned from cracking fish skulls.  I was arguing with myself somewhat – should fish, but not obligated to fish, what is there to prove here, what is to be done, could you use your time better.  I worked an iterative path upstream, looking in.  Approx same conditions maybe slightly better, such was the input from me to myself.  In the end I decided that self-abuse can indeed be a good thing (see previous posts) and there is good calm to be had on the far side of invigoration, even if it is mildly painful invigoration.  I strapped on my hand warmer and walked downstream maybe fifteen minutes.  Paused to look at some bare rib cages through which the snow was blowing.  Walked through the oaks.  Crossed some moderate gullies.  Stopped and lined up a 4 wt fly rod.  I was looking for fewer knots, less hassle (good nymphing requires snagging) and increased probability of big fish, so I tied on a streamer.  LOD to be exact.  I’ve heard recently that some hate the idea of taking a fly pattern, altering it, and renaming it.  This is a good topic; it merits some discussion.  But in the end I think that line of thinking would essentially lead one to conclude that there can be no new fly patterns.  And I prefer to conclude otherwise so I work back from that and arrive with moderate confidence at the suggestion that one can indeed personalize fly patterns and name them.  So it was the LOD and not a DB eye rust-colored bugger with peacock herl shellback.  My basic thought was to crank it up and across, trying various retrieves, looking for quick hitting trout that would ground me a bit and then allow me to disembark my vessel my own two legs.  Go home and lay up out of the wind.  It was afterall howling, right up the valley at my face right into my casting plane, generally pushing the fly line to my right.  This was not a safety issue then, not the dreaded righthand wind, there would be no hooks in scalps, but it required compensation.  Not long into this deal and I felt pretty good casting at one bank and having the line fall in the middle of the flow. 

At some point there may be described an optimal technique for fishing these streams.  It is somewhat dependent on one’s goals (most fish, eating fish, big fish, dry fly visuals, degree of difficulty, purism, etc.).  But it’s possible that there exists an all-encompassing approach that could hit on all facets in a centrist fashion.  No one can speak to it at this point as far as I know.  Way back, probably around year 2001 I tried fishing a generalist “symph” pattern – hybrid streamer and nymph.  This was because at that time I was fishing one stream in particular with low trout density and relatively large fish.  The advice I got from a guy who knows this land and has discovered trout in streams was to find fish with a streamer and if they don’t connect, dead drift a big nymph through there.  We did this with some success.  I tried that symph pattern because I thought I could strip it back and then without changing flies, dead drift it.  Worked okay.  I’m interested in the same thing going forward, only upping the fly size a bit.  Using a pattern that one can quarter up and across, strip back.  Swing downstream (although this has generally fallen into disfavor in my camp).  Drop in holes and twitch through.  Dead drift.  Even put under an indicator. Maybe give this a trial, see what happens. 

On this day there were two hours allotted.  Noon to 2 PM.  Two hours of wind.  A low casting plane was good.  Still some errant casts that fouled things.  The only words I said aloud were instances of muttering “errant cast.”  First fish hooked was in the tail of a pool, it came off after a few seconds.  It flashed and I think it was a BKT.   I worked a series of holes in this fashion: stripping through the tails, and then dead drifting the faster water up at the head of the pool.  Taking care to drop and let sink in any deep looking slots, then twitch back and/or raise slowly.  Of ten hookups, eight fish came to hand.  Five were nice browns in the 10-12” range.  Fish four and five were markedly large: 18” female followed by 19.5” male (not from same hole; while there were no fish caught between them, there were steps in the snow).  My measuring technique is to use my hand span.  Which is pretty much right on nine inches.  The female was pretty precisely two hand spans.  The male, I gave two hand spans and estimated the remainder to be a strong 1.5”.  It is possible but not probable that the fish was 20” but I can’t conclude that and best evidence says strong 19-19.5” fish.  Last fish of the day was a brook trout.  And now I remember that I did say other words aloud because when I saw the white fin edges I made an exclamation of sorts in happiness.

First fish of the day; appreciate those colors.

A big female.  Look at that short mouth.

And the marabou tail of the LOD in the current.

A few quick pics, going from body, zooming in to head shot, then this release.  Pretty much all the while in the water.

Even bigger male fish; what a deep mouth.  Great colors; striking yellow.  I have a couple cuts on my thumb of right hand.

Here he just hangs in the water in all his bulk and dimension.  That fish likes to lay in the cut and wait for small game to come to him.  He owns an ambush slot of dark water. 

Last fish.  First BKT of 2014.  Winter over; spring going now.  Maybe find some bugs, sun, easy walking.

Had not seen this before...    celebratory beer selection.


Anonymous winonaflyfactory said...

Curious why the down and across isn't for you? My thought process is always what will be most advantageous? Sometimes the only way to approach some of what I fish is to toss it down and in, snaggy spots you can't dead drift or nymph but you know something is in there, and with a streamer in that fast flow at the head of a run is typically when that fish has to make the split second choice...hit hard and eat or pass. Just my thoughts.

The SMB would be a black bugger with a flash chenille head if there were no new patterns...

The 2hrs you had here is what I will think to anytime conditions to do anything be it fish, bike, run, hike, hunt for morels, etc. are adverse. You were rewarded by the gods for your fortitude, its a good reminder for the rest of us, forge ahead and reap the rewards even if the reward is simply saying you sucked it up and toughed it out.

Tasty looking beer there, you know my stance on that. Hope it went well with the Nirvana. I opted to drink mine to some old Rage Against the Machine after a ride on the bike trainer. Take care man. Keep the reports coming.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Good posts man, sure is nice to see someone connecting with some trout. OUr rivers up north still have 3 feet of snow on them; two outings so far and no connections. Anyway, keep up the good reads man!


1:22 PM  
Anonymous PF said...

It is good sometimes to push past the cost:reward ratio. The reward was singular in scope. Serious stout fish, there. Capital end to a harsh season.

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