Fishing Trout in a Desert Oasis

There is a little trickle of water that cuts through a steep rocky canyon not far from where I work that I never had considered fishing until I was hiking around out there a few weeks ago.  As I hopped from rock to rock across the creek in one spot  I was surprised to see a nice little trout take off in water that was not even deep enough to cover his back.  So today I headed back up this trail to see if any of those little guys would eat an artificial fly.

I kept things simple.  A couple Sparkle Duns in a small plastic box, tucked into my shirt pocket, and my 3 weight fly rod.  I made my way up the quarter mile trail to a nice little waterfall of about 30-40 feet (just a guess).  It's a pretty little spot and the fact that trout do in fact live in these waters is amazing to me.  Trout are very sensitive to high water temps and this creek runs out of some of the hottest high desert in the state.  The summer sun gets to be blistering here but the steep canyon walls and overhanging rocks and brush shade this little stream just enough to keep the temps within a livable range for the native Columbia Basin Redband Trout that swim here. 

As I arrived at the biggest and deepest pool right below the waterfall I could see several splashes from aggressively feeding fish.  I tossed the small fly in and almost immediately it was engulfed by a hungry little trout.  I continued to catch several small trout, the biggest ran in the 6-7 inch range.  Still they actually could put a nice little bend in my light weight rod.  These would not be considered trophy's in their size, but they are fish to be admired none the less.

 I was having fun, catching a fish on nearly every cast when I decided to try and land the fly as close to the base of the cliff to the right of the water fall as I could.  The rocks there looked a bit undercut by the current and I wondered if there was maybe a chance of a little larger fish lying in wait back in a shelter little nook.  The fly landed perfectly and as it drifted just an inch off the edge of the rock face it was suddenly sucked down.  I set the hook on what was probably a monster fish for this little water.  The fish ended up going a full 10 inches in length, indeed a trophy in this little desert trickle.  With a blazing red stripe down it's side that expanded to cover it's entire head the colors on this fish were amazing even to this colorblind fisherman. 

So I learned again that when fishing it's not always about chasing 20 inch hawgs.  There is something to be said for keeping things simple.  Fishing small waters for small fish that have adapted to live in conditions that would prove hostile to some of their very near cousins.  One has to pause and admire these fish, no matter what their size.