Fishing Journal-Week 15

May 24

A good day on the water.  I found a nice piece of river where a good riffle flattened out into a longer deeper stretch that pushed up into some pockets created by rocks sticking out into the river and a slight bend in the bank.  This led to insects hatching that came from that riffle that were having any trouble getting off the water at all where pushed into these pockets where they would drift slowly and were easy targets.  In almost every break along the shore there was a nice Brown slurping casually as the helpless bugs drifted over them.  It was a buffet for the fish, and the fisherman as well.  I simply started with the first fish downstream and waded in below it, then one by one worked my way upstream picking off the next available fish.  
The first fish was sitting mere inches off the rocky bank.  By the size of the nose that poked up in regular intervals slurping mayflies I knew this was a nice fish.  There were so many naturals on the water it was a waiting game as I tried to get the fish to eat my fly.  It took several casts but eventually the BWO Sparkle Dun pattern was slurped by the big fish.  I set the hook and set in for a good fight on my little three weight (my best rod for casting tiny dries, but not the best rod for fighting 20 inch fish).  I fought him for a couple minutes and thought I had thing under control when he took one more big run and the hook pulled free.  

No time to feel sorry for myself and on to the next fish.  Ten feet up river another big nose was poking up in regular intervals.  This fish was the only one that did not take my fly.  Because one of my first casts to it, with the adrenaline from the last fish still subsiding, I closed the loop too fast on my back cast and hooked my fly line causing a pile up of line, and leader over the fishes lie.  If it hadn't been for the three fish I could see feeding along the bank every 20 feet or so up above me I may have been real disappointed in myself, but it was time to move on.  

I decided the next fish would be the last I would work on this lunch hour trip.  I worked up just below it's position and found the fish here was in a tough lie.  Under some brush tight to the bank making casting to it difficult.  My first few casts were tentative and too far out from the bank to get into it's feeding lane.  Finally I felt comfortable enough with those casts to try to punch it in close to the bank.  My first good cast was drifting right over the fish.  I could see it's dark form rising so slowly as it eyeballed my fly.  The nose broke the surface in slow motion, but my tense rod arm was already in fast forward.  I jerked the fly right out of it's mouth.  I was sure this fish was a lost cause now as well but I stood and watched the spot he had been feeding.  It didn't take long and it was back to work.  I took a deep breath and prepared to give it another go.  Several casts went by with out getting a look.  Then finally I saw the fish again rise to the pattern, but this time it turned away at the last moment.  Getting a bit discouraged that maybe this fish was educated on my fly now, and thinking I may have time to switch one time before I leave, I decided to make one more cast with this fly.  As it drifted over the fish without seeming to get any attention I was about to pull the cast back when I saw the fish turn.  It swam back downstream towards me and straight at the fly.  This time I held my composure as the fish slowly rose up and gulped the artificial bug.  I waited a count in my head and brought the rod tip up.  I was connected.  

It put up a good fight and eventually ended up in my net, but as I released the big brown, I knew that fly fishing is about so much more than the final score.  It is the game itself that keeps us coming back.  

May 25

I fished in the same spot I did yesterday.  There were fewer fish in this nice little pocket than there was on Monday but there were a couple noses up.  Where the bugs on the water yesterday had been BWO's and Callibaetis, today it was a PMD show.  Less in number but very visible as their pale bodies contrasted with the dark water.  
My first cast to a rising fish was sucked down by the big fish.  However the hook never found pay dirt and the fly pulled free on the hook set.  This fish did not stick around to find out what had just happened.  The rises in his lie stopped and even after giving it a few minutes, it never showed itself again. 

I moved up to almost the same spot I caught the fish yesterday where another fish was working in the tough lie.  I hadn't seen anything rise there for a few minutes so I wondered if the fish was done as I began casting to the water I had last seen it.   It didn't take long and the fish absolutely attacked my PMD Sparkle Dun pattern.  I had too much slack out and had to madly scramble to take it up.  I gave many opportunity there for the fish to pull free but finally gained control and was somehow still connected.  A few mintutes later I pulled in a healthy 20" fish.  

I cut this day short after releasing the nice brown and made my way back to the office.  Twenty minutes, two fish targeted, one fish caught.  It was worth it.  

May 28 

Today was windy! Gusts were blasting through at 25-30 mph. It was a little less than that when I started but by the time I was done fishing it was blowing hard. I still had a little success. With the wind I pulled a cripple pattern out and had some immediate results.

Here is where he came from in one of the calmer moments the river had today:

Finally after fighting with the wind for another hour my main problem became picking my fly out on the surface when their were white caps rolling over it. Usually I can watch the area pretty close and set on any activity but picking out a fish's rise is also tough when the surface is so disturbed. I missed a couple fish with my favorite PMD pattern that I just didn't see until it was to late. Who knows how many takes I had that I just couldn't see. The bugs where still hatching and the fish were still rising despite the big waves rolling on the surface of the river. Finally I found a protected little pocked and a fish rising that I could actually get my fly to when I waited for just the right moment, like when the wind died down to 15 mph instead of 30. I punched it in above the dark shape but as soon as my fly hit the water up above the fish another fish nabbed it. Turns out it was a MONSTER rainbow. My first rainbow on this river in a long time. Did I mention it was a MONSTER. It leaped from the water landing right in the middle of where the fish I was really casting too had been lying and soon came to the net. Without further ado I present to you my MONSTER rainbow!

Really I have HUGE hands. Well that little bow had totally messed up my chance at the big guy. He was long gone. I decided it was time to pack up and get back to the office but as I waded out of the water I came across this guy that I think is a Slate Brown Dun.

Very big Mayfly after seeing #18-20 PMD's all day. About a #12 hook is what it would take to duplicate it's size. I don't know if these come off here as a strong enough hatch to really get the fish's attention but after straining to see a Tiny PMD in the waves all day it's sounding pretty good to try a bug that size on next time.


Fishing Journal-Week 14

May 21
This week did not bring much fishing but Friday I made it out for a bit.  I found a spot I have not ever fished before.  It was a big pool at the base of a nice riffle but on the inside in a bit of an eddy there were a few fish rising.  I was anxious to get a few fish on dry flies so I tied on a BWO Sparkle Dun and made my way slowly around the edge of the pool keeping low to not spook the fish in this clear slow water and got into position.  I waited for a fish to show itself and didn't have to wait long.  To my left about 20 feet out I could see a nice brown surface then watched as it cruised angling away from me.  I made a quick snap cast that somehow was right on the mark.  The little fly settled in right in the fish's path and as soon as it hit the water I saw the trout's head turn towards it.  Got his attention.  The Brown slowly rose towards the fly and it was taking all my nerves to keep it together as I watched him coming up almost in slow motion.  Then at just the last moment he darted left and back along his cruising pattern.  Rejected!  This slow moving, crystal clear water was not going to leave any margin for error.

I spotted another rise across the pool and because I couldn't see this fish I had no idea which direction it was cruising so I simply wanted to get my cast in it's vicinity and hope to get it's attention.  Well it worked.  The fly sat on the calm surface for a few seconds before disappearing in a barely perceptible swirl.  This was one of the hardest fighting fish I have caught here in a while.  The fish was immediately all over the pool leaping numerous times.  It was undoubtedly a nice fish as I got several good looks at its entire length with each jump it made.  It peeled drag from my reel with ease, but finally I was able to work it in close.  It was about 15 feet from me when the big trout made one last hard run.  It was a long one, straight up river against the current.  Line melted from my reel and then the reel stopped, but the fish kept going.  SNAP goes the 4x tippet I had been using. 

I looked down to see what had went wrong and discovered that deep on my reel the fly line had developed a loop that was burried for probably a long time.  This much line had not been exposed in quite some time, but this fish had been capable, and when the loop got caught on the reel handle as it spun their was little hope for my tippet.  It was fun while it lasted. 

I went back to work as several other fish still remained feeding in the big eddy.  It wasn't long and I tied into another fish.  This one didn't jump but it too was pulling hard.  I thought I was fighting a nice fish, not near as big as the one I lost but still was expecting a respectible sized fish.  I was suprised when I pulled it into the net though to see just a 12 inch little football had put up this good tussell. 

Soon after this the rain began so I made my way back to the truck.  As I drove down the canyon the skies opened up making me glad I quit when I did.

Around the Yard this Spring

 Well I had to get out in the yard and do some flower shots.  It's a yearly tradition.  I enjoy watching the yard come to life each spring.  This year I focused on the Azalea, Columbine, and an Iris.


Fishing Journal-Week 13

Thursday May 13th the fish were chasing the big meaty flies like crazy

May 10
I made it out as planned today but I mistimed the hatch by just a little bit so I missed out on the dry fly action. And I do think it was going to be a good one, judging by the fish activity in the time I was on the water. I arrived around 1:00pm and saw some swallows dipping over the river. The sky was overcast and there were some scattered drops of rain but not enough to make life difficult. It was looking like a good day for some BWO's. I fished the same riffle as I did Friday and used the same nymphs as there were no bugs or fish up on the surface yet but I knew that things had to be getting close.

Having learned from my last trip here I worked the shallow drop off on the inside portion of the riffle first. It is real skinny water but I caught a nice fish there Friday so I figured there could well be another fish in there snacking on drifting nymphs. I worked the water over pretty good with no luck. Then on the end of a drift I was picking up my line to make a cast as the indicator was almost at my feet when I met up with some resistance. My indicator never responded but there was a nice hefty fish on the other end of the line. He bolted just like the last one I caught here for the fast current. I again worked him to the slow water along the near grassy bank and admired another 20" fish from this productive little spot.

I moved down the riffle working the deeper water along the edge of the main current. I had a little dry spell there until I got down near the end of the heavy current where it flattens out into a nice slower tail out. I worked the nymph around a submerged boulder that I only knew existed because I had fished this spot many times when the water was low, and sure enough as the flies swung around it the indicator took off. I set the hook on what I at first assumed to be a small fish. It didn't feel like much but suddenly he took off peeling line. I worked fish number two into my hands and was pleasantly surprised by a nice 18" fish with a thick body, and shoulders. A real stocky guy.

Funny story about this fish though...he must have been hungry. He had taken the top fly in my setup and when I brought him in I popped that fly out then let my fly's dangle in the water off the end of the rod straight out in front of me. I held him there letting him rest for a couple minutes and then watched him bolt away. Then this fish got crazy...I took the rod out from under my arm and was going to get ready to make another cast when I felt the line getting peeled out again. I thought maybe that as the fish bolted away from me he must have snagged himself on one of my fly's dangling in the water. But when I retrieved the fish, it was indeed the same fish, but he was hooked in the mouth, with the other fly. He must have seen it dangling there as he swam away and ate it up.

After releasing this fish...again...the hatch started changing. Fish began rising sporadically, and not subtly. Splashy rises were the name of the game, signaling to me that the nymphs were nearing the surface and the hatch was near. I am sure a swung soft hackle would have worked wonderfully at this time but I did not have any with me, so I took off my indicator and started swinging my nymphs. I had a take on nearly every cast, but I couldn't keep them hooked.

Finally just before I was about to leave, I hooked into one that stuck. It took off downstream and fought hard. After a good hard run this fish took to the air. I was ready for the first jump but could not get composed when he immediately took to the air a second time. What I could see was a very nice fish, spit the hook back in my face.

Satisfied with the day I packed up and headed back to the truck...knowing of course that the hatch was just beginning.

May 12
Not much to report on this day but, WIND! It was blowing hard, making casting difficult. The hatch never really got going as any bugs were immediately blown off the water. I did manage one small fish on a Tumbler nymph.

May 13
Fish were on streamers today. It's always fun to catch them chasing meaty flies. I caught three fish right off the bat nymphing a deep hole then switched over to streamers when the sun dipped behind the canyon walls. Sure enough fish were aggressive, but landing them was a trick. I busted up two of my leaders, and broke off three flies on fish. I lost many nice fish that just attacked the big flies, and had many fish swing and miss on the strike. It was fun to finally catch them in the mood for chasing streamers. It's one of my favorite ways to fly fish.


Fishing Journal-Week 12

May 7

I only made it out to the river once this week but it was a pretty good trip. The fish were still not up feeding on the surface despite a pretty good hatch of caddis, and some Blue Wing Olives so I stuck to nymphing.

There were basically two nice runs where I stopped to fish. The upper was a very short riffle that dumped into a short but very deep hole. I know there are a lot of fish in there but I haven't ever had a lot of luck fishing what looks like a very productive run. I did get one good tug as my flies swung up at the end of a drift but it was gone as soon as it came. After about five minutes I felt I had covered this spot about as good as I could and moved down to the lower shallower but wider and longer run. This riffle had a lot more fishable water and I knew it would take some time to really work it over and cover it sufficiently.

I started up high and worked down focusing on working around all the submerged structure but had not even a tick on the indicator. I was at the bottom of the run where the current really slows and about ready to head up to the top and work down through it again, when my indicator darted sideways. I set the hook on a small but fiesty little brown. I quickly landed the 12 incher and went back to work in the slower water. It was hard to know just where the fish would be holding in the wide flat water where spotting structure was tough. A couple casts later though I caught another fish in this slower water. This one was a little bigger. Maybe 15 or 16 inches. I continued to work the wide current as best I could and was having no more luck when I decided it was time to go up and try the top of the riffle again before I left.
Good move it turns out. As I waded up into the shallow water I thought I saw a fish porpoise in the ankle deep water on the inside of the main swift current. It was a little softer water but there wasn't much of it so I wondered if it was really a fish or if I had just seen some debris tumble through the current. I figured it couldn't hurt to throw a cast up there anyway. My indicator was rigged much too deep for the shallow current here and I failed to take time to adjust it so when I saw the indicator stop in it's drift I thought for sure it had snagged some mossy rocks. As I brought the rod tip up though the shallow water exploded and an angry brown charged from its shallow lie and headed across and downstream from me into the heavy current where it could really get the advantage on me. I ran downstream with it to keep from loosing too much leverage and finally caught up with it and worked it into the softer water near shore. This was another nice fish much like many of the fish here. I netted and released my third fish of my lunch break and headed back to the office refreshed.


The Frenzy

Here is a site to check out: flyfishingfrenzy.com

Some good fishing, and good entertainment. And they ran a fan photo contest on their facebook page a couple weeks ago that yielded myself a Frenzy hat. There were some good photos in the mix.

Good stuff, be sure to check them out.


Fishing Journal-Week 11

April 26-Chuck and Duck

Full disclosure time...I try and avoid nymphing, especially double nymph rigs, as much as possible. I have no reason other than it's a simple matter of preference. For me my preference comes from the answer to these two simple questions.

1. Would I rather cast a double nymph rig, with split shot, and a thingamabobber, or a #20 dry fly. Uh, no brainer, I hate casting a double nymph rig.

2. Would I rather watch my thingamabobber disappear and quickly set the hook hoping my fly is in a fish lip and not caught on some moss on the bottom again, or would I rather watch a big snout break the surface and inhale my #20 BWO? Again simple answer...seeing the take wins every time.

But there is a third question that trumps all and will eventually get me to switch over.

3. Do I want to cast that pretty little dry fly all day over fish that are not rising and catch nothing, or would I rather catch a fish? Because I am stubborn, and a little on the slow side, sometimes it takes me longer than it should to ask myself this third question but I eventually come around to it.

Well it took me three trips to the river, and watching crazy hatches coming off with not a single rise, to finally convince me that I needed to switch up my game plan. I made up my mind before even heading out for today's lunch on the river that the first thing I was going to do was tie up my favorite torture device, the double nymph rig.

I only had a half hour to fish by the time I finished switching everything over. New leader, new tippet, new flies, Split shot installed, thingamabobber engaged...off to the water. I tied on a attractor nymph that I think works well for both caddis and midge pupa, and a nymph I like to use in place of a pheasant tail, and went to work. It did not take long. On one of my first drifts my indicator jerked sideways and I pulled in an extremely aggressive 17 inch fish with a deformed mouth. His lower jaw looked like it had fairly recently been injured so I released him without a photo to avoid stressing him further. A couple casts later I was into a bigger fish that fought by simply laying on the bottom of the river and not budging. I had to use a lot of pressure to get him to me. I finally had him ready to land when he decided he had enough and made a hard run straight away. Before I could react and give him line the hook pulled free. As I examined the carnage I found that the pressure I had been forced to use had straightened my hook. That last run was too much and finished the job.

As I walked back to the truck after another successful lunch break I examined my leader. Hey, only two wind knots! Not bad for me.