|One of my favorite streamers to fish for big browns.|
The river I fish often is about to blow. Rumors of a big release from the Dam starting this afternoon and then doubling again by the end of the week prompted me to take advantage yesterday of one of the few remaining days this spring I may get to fish it. Although if it goes much higher we may be able to break the Drift boat out a little early and get some of the rust off my rowing shoulders.
With the river already having bumped up from 30 cfs to 222 cfs in the last week and the water running a little off color I decided to fling some streamers and see what happened. I certainly wasn't disappointed.
I fished a bank I have come to affectionately call "The Butcher Shop." It is a great Streamer bank with a shallow gravel bar along most one side making it easy to wade along that side and throw big streamers to the protected far bank that drops off quickly into a nice trough with a lot of overhanging brush, exposed rocks, as well as other cover. And to top it off the current flows through there at just about the perfect speed.
I started in at the bottom of the run in a shorter run before it drops off into a minor riffle and then dumps into another long run that lasts about 100 yards. My first cast the Conehead Zonker I was fishing pulled across the current untouched, but as it swung below me and came into view I clearly saw the dark form of a large fish on it's tail. I gave the fly a few twitches, but the big fish was not enticed and I watched the shadow dissipate back toward the center of the run. My heart was officially beating now. Streamer fishing is not for the faint of heart, as I have had more heart stopping moments tugging big flies than any other type of fishing. I had several on this day and this was just the first.
A few moments later I learned, or should I say, relearned, a lesson I should have known...well okay...I knew better, but I failed to heed my better judgment. Never just assume that the 4x tippet that is already attached to your fly line is an OK choice, and for the sake of convenience ignore the nagging voice in the back of your head telling you to change that or you are going to regret it. Well that's exactly what I did. Anxious to hit the river I had decided to just tie the #4 Zonker on what was left of the leader already attached to my fly line, and soon I got the wake up call I needed. Off the bank came a hard crashing fish, he grabbed the fly and turned back to his lair in a flash, and I hardly even felt it. It was that quick, the separation of fly from the leader was swift and clean. Large fish smacking a moving fly on a tight line can make quick work of too light tippets. I humbly stood in the stream and did what I should have done 15 minutes before.
Back at it after re rigging a much stouter and shorter leader, I hit the short riffle between the long banks. Casting into eddies and pockets behind boulders along the far edge I was coming up empty for the first half, as I casted, and stepped downstream, working the bank thoroughly. At the bottom of the riffle there was a bigger eddy with a nice foam line that looked like a good place for a nice trout to lay in ambush. The streamer landed perfectly at the head of the little pocket and I began the strip. The fly had just entered the faster water when the surface exploded and I clearly saw a beautiful buttery brown roll above the water and come down on top of my streamer. I have had this happen a couple times when fishing streamers, and every time I can hardly believe my eyes. I think if I had a video camera and could slow it down and zoom in on the fishes eyes, you could see they would be glowing red. Sometimes these fish just get crazy mad. He grabbed the fly on the way down and I felt the heaviness for a couple seconds, but just like the other times I have had fish attack the fly like this, it was short lived. It seemed to be an attack out of anger rather than hunger, and that happens in fishing these meaty flies, but it didn't help the thumping in my chest any.
It was only a few casts later when my fly swung across the bottom of the riffle that I felt the hard strike and the heavy weight of a nice fish that played a little too close with that fine line and managed to hook himself. One thing I will say, I have never had a fish that hit a streamer, just roll over and come to the net easily. These fish were mad before, and the sting of the hook takes that rage to a whole new level. I finally landed this fish and it was a very fat 20 inch Brown that was as healthy as I have seen this year on the river.
|Big fish like this are the reason I will occasionally fish streamers even in the midst of a heavy hatch, like the BWO's that were popping on this day.|
As I continued up the run several more big shadows ghost up behind my fly as I bring it across the river, but none that are willing to take the plunge and grab a bite. Finally I came to a section with a lot of old dead branches hanging over and into the water, and in amongst them was a big nose rising methodically, probably to midges as I see them congregating along the current seam that feeds his little haven. It's a tough lie, and he's sipping dries, so I wonder how willing he would be to grab a streamer. It's worth a try though. My cast hit just above the brambles, and I let my heavy fly sink and tumble with the current into the big fishes feeding lane. As it arrived in the zone I could no longer see the fish, or the fly in the murky water but I figured it was time to start stripping it out of there. As I began the strip I immediately met resistance and felt the heavy shake of a big Brown's head. I managed to sneak him out of the bramble patch he was in without him wrapping me around a branch, and slugged it out with him in the middle of the current where fewer hazards existed. Finally a few moments later I was able to raise the big head and slip another nice trout into the mesh.
The day continued with this theme and by the end of a couple hours 7 big heavy fish had found their way into my net, all on streamers, right in the midst of a massive Blue Wing Olive hatch that I simply ignored. What a day. Nothing like the heart pounding action when the fish are mashing streamers.
|This nice fish put the finishing touches on a great day on the river.|