Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Four Trout Chapters

Returned from Alaska September 20, 2015 and since then have had time on the water four different days, each of which is noted below.

I. First trout.

October 24, 2015.  After trout harvest done; before deer season.  Good time to get a young kid his first trout on the fly.  That was my thinking.  Just two of us walking popular water.  And in fact we did see a number of fly anglers out and about; those taking advantage of our new state park season.  I generally never fish this water but our goal was just a single trout to hand and I figured that could be managed in the confines of the popular easy walking no hiking stream reaches.  We started out on low probability water just to get some practice flipping and drifting.  Within about five minutes of watching him I felt terrible because I knew that I should have taken him out earlier this year; it was apparent that he was ready to catch some fish by way of this method.  I had underestimated him it seems.

A fellow angler gave up his post on this slow water; passed it along to JW.  Said bunch of rainbows in there.  Go get one kid.  So we stationed.  He flipped and drifted; I watched from the bank.  New thing for me but I am quickly understanding that I'd be largely satisfied to watch kids from the bank.  Great perception of a subtle indicator movement here and he set the hook on what we thought was his first trout; turned out to be WSU which is fine; another specie on the fly is what it means.  Can see in the photo he put the nymph right in the top lip.  Maybe suckers actually have a monolip and therefore he put it at the top of the circumference of the lip.  And the hat: it was white; I dyed it because fishing hats should not be white.

Upstream a couple holes.  Recognizable water.  He was flipping and drifting with the 2 wt; one BH nymph, one splitshot (I tried very hard to not use a splitshot but I understood him to be drifting over so many fish it became unbearable and I said give me that rig right now I can't take it) and an indicator.  He needs a little room behind him given he is a rookie; few hangups on backcasts but actually not bad at all; I've seen adults hang up with greater frequency.  He worked the hole for a while; nothing.  I said come on man let's move up I think you beat it down.  He said no I want to stay here this is a good hole.  Second presentation after that note was well placed right above the plunge point and the rig dallied at the head of the pool; understand the fly sank well and then as the indicator started downstream a couple feet it jolted.  I said nothing because he had already set the hook.  #14 beadhead in the top of the mouth.

Nice fall colors; deep mouthed male.  Maybe 12 inches; we didn't measure.  Some notable teeth.  

Eleven year old dude.  Walking out, direct quote: After I hooked that trout I felt like I could do anything.  I think that is a kid confirming what we know to be good medicine.
 II.  Year 2016.

On January 1st after a morning of chores and hanging with kids at home, I slipped out for two point five hours of fishing.  Winter opener; all trout streams now accessible.  According to my time stamp this photo was taken at 13:13 central time.  Token image of the first fish of year 2016.  I think it was around ten inches long.  My goal here was to nymph in the sun; put up some numbers in short time and head home before dark.

Couple drifts later the indicator stopped and slowly descended; the descent common to a winter trout take but also common to hanging up on bottom.  But find a reason to set the hook; that was an early imprint from JM.  I picked up the rod; something solid and not moving.  Held; held.  Then it did start moving.  Like a giant sucker.  For a long time I thought I had hooked a giant cold white sucker at the bottom of the pool.  Only after I saw the fish from above did I understand the magnitude of this deal.  2 wt and 4x tippet, so care was required.  The fight was not dynamic but rather a slow powerful and bullish affair.  She tried to jump up the pool head at one point but was just short; fell back into the pool.  No net and no fishing partner, so had to walk her downstream to a midchannel bar.  As if she wanted to be landed, she parked herself perfectly in the submerged veg on the bar, which allowed me to bound into the water and in one shot, tail the fish (put the pressure on your own knuckle not on the tail says CK).  I took a photo of her by the rod; measured with handspans, and then went all out and set up the camera on timer.  Don't usually do that but glad I did in this case.  Then a couple photos holding her in the water.  Release was good; she seemed to have solid energy; swam back to the hole.  My estimate on length after much recreation and study, looking at all reference, is 30 inches.  To the nearest inch.  LOD twitch drift was what made it happen.

Should really post this fish with a ~15 incher in the same position.  

Bit of mass.  Big head.  Body somewhat depleted after spawn.  No real colors.  Kind of looks like an Atlantic Salmon.

After that big fish I kind of just walked around for a while.  Didn't seem like much else to do.  Drank tea by some old trees.  Then I tried the bead rig we used in Alaska.  Caught some fish on it.  Then went home.  The end.

III.  Day with sons and DF.

Wanted to let my karma rest for a bit but really wanted to be on the stream.  A visit from DF was good.  Two of us guys took the boys out on the local water.  GOALS: get trout to hand for DF, for JW, and if everything is working, maybe even get one for the little guy.  One hole in and after one perfect drift this beauty came to hand for DF.  Nice start.  Well done.  Out from under some HI cover.

Older boy has hippies now but the little one still needs a buck over the water.  It was moderately cold but the sun was out.  Fairly easy walking.  I credit this guy for never complaining once about cold or snow or any condition other than his brother bugging the hell out of him.

The remedy for the kids (incessantly hitting each other with sticks, yelling, etc.) was to get them fishing.  Which I suppose makes sense.  Older boy JW nymphed two holes.  First one he was 1/1 and he set the hook so hard he pulled the trout out of the water; arcing through air into snow; quite a trip for smallish fish.  Number of sensations there.  The next hole was the big hole; many, many fish have come to hand here.  DF hooked and caught some; then JW stepped up.  Didn't take long.  He hooked five and landed one.  One he brought almost to net but it took him below the undercut and rubbed him off (a liability of the two fly rig).  He was quite distraught which I took to be a good sign; an indicator of intensity and passion.  He did very well discerning takes; subtle changes in the path or altitude of the indicator.  I enjoyed wielding the net; even used a telescoping handle feature.

Walk out at dark when the day is done.

One more trout day while kids in school.  I have an Iowa license and goal was to catch a bunch of fish nymphing and selectively keep a limit; bring home for a meal.  I went crazy and drove ~50 miles one way.  

I got a "tip" that said check out stream X.  Really good.  I went there.  It was terrible.  Shallow, choked with veg and no holes to speak of at all.  I spent 1.5 hours reconning the whole deal, down to the mouth.  Never made a cast.  Can't remember last time that happened.  Deer, turkeys, pheasants, geese but no good holes.  So I drove on to a stream that I know somewhat well; not intimately but somewhat well.  What a contrast.  This day could have been a study in nymphing water: garbage vs good.  I fished a series of holes.  Deep water like that pictured here.  This is where winter trout lay up.  Figure dozens of fish in there.  Caught quite a few.  Next hole.  Same deal.  Get rig down.  Catch fish.

No trout here.  Until second split shot added.  Then fishing a new stratum, catching trout.  Iterative weight increases and moving indicator.

Poorly tied BH scud begets grimed thumb and full creel.  Plenty of fish released but five now brining.  End of a nice trout flurry; will retire now for a while in the cold; watch football and consider next moves.


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Anonymous Dan Callahan said...

Dude. Really like your style. Are you in Trout Unlimited? Could you essentially write your blog post about your New Year's Day fish and submit it with the photo, so we can use it in the upcoming statewide newspaper, that we're going to be giving away to 4,000 people at the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo March 18-20 at Century College in White Bear Lake? Time is short, deadline Sunday. Let me know. Thanks. Dan Callahan,

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