Something about going fishing in the middle of a work day makes the sport that much more enjoyable. Knowing that you could still be at work, but here you are knee deep in a trout stream, brings a new appreciation for the opportunity. I am lucky to work a half hour drive from a great trout stream. It makes for a long lunch but it is possible to get out to the river, fish a little, and get back to the office in a couple hours. Yesterday as I was sitting there in the office looking out the window at a steady drizzle, 45 degree weather, with no wind I couldn't keep my mind from wandering to the fact that these were perfect conditions for a solid Blue Wing Olive hatch. I figured sometimes it is better to scratch that itch and get it over with than sit around and daydream all day, so at lunch time I jumped in the truck and headed out to the river.
As I drove along the lower stretches of river I could see that my guess was correct. The bugs were hatching and the fish were eating. Little rings dotted the surface of each slow pool where another hungry trout had picked off a helpless mayfly.
There is a spot along the river I had always wondered about but never tried as it is tucked away neatly off the main road. I pulled off the pavement onto a little dirt track that led back to a big bend in the river. As I pulled up I could see the nature of the river here was deep and slow moving, and just like downstream, there were fish feeding in small pods throughout this stretch.
I pulled out the fly box, tied on a BWO Sparkle Dun type pattern I had tied a handful of over the last weekend and cautiously waded into the slow, quiet current. I tried to approach the first pod of rising fish from down river casting up and a little across to reach them and letting the fly drift back towards me. There were no takers. Wondering if by chance, in this slow current and clear water, the fly line was tipping them off, I changed my approach a little. I waded in above a small pod of feeders further up the river and fished downstream to them. This method is a little trickier as it requires more stealth as you are in a vulnerable position directly in the trout's line of vision. Secondly it is more difficult to make the cast and get a good drift. Because the current is moving away from you it calls for a cast which will stack up as much slack line at the end of your line as possible so there is plenty of slack to allow for the longest possible drag free drift.
I made my first cast to these fish from my new position and watched the fly drift very slowly in the current. I found my self straining to pick out the tiny fly, sometimes wondering if I was still watching it or a small bit of foam drifting in the current. Then as quietly as the hush over the surrounding hills a nose broke the surface and my fly disappeared in a swirl.
The silence was now broken as the fish pulled at the sting in it's jaw. Running up and down and side to side through the narrow river, it leaped clear of the water several times, crashing back down with a cacophonous clap. I tried to steer the fish away from the rest of the pod that had been rising hoping to get another shot at a fish from this pool but it was too strong and went where it wanted, at times bringing a screech from my reel as more line was stripped out against the drag.
Eventually the powerful fish was brought to hand, and as I rocked it back and forth in the current, reviving the big brown, I noticed the small ring of a gentle rise develop where the pod had been. Already the fish where back to the business at hand, sipping mayflies, and apparently not missing their comrade very much. Suddenly, the Brown made a powerful surge and bolted from my hands and I took a moment to let things settle even more. As I reconditioned my fly, working it into a buoyant condition again, more and more fish began to rise.
I ended up catching a couple more fish from this group in a mere half hour of fishing. Each one put on a aerial display similar to that first fish and tested the drag on my reel. After bringing the third fish to hand on the tiny BWO imitation the fly was already getting a little tattered. As I pulled it from the jaws of that last fish I noticed the hook was beginning to straighten out. There is nothing quite like a fly that has been so abused by fish it has been rendered useless. I then realized that if I didn't take this opportunity and leave now, I wasn't likely to make it back to the office at all that day so I reluctantly headed back to the truck. So now you know both the good and the bad of fishing on your lunch break. Sometimes the fishing is too good and you just don't want to leave.