Saturday, July 31, 2010

A house without fishing gear!

Practically every stitch of fly fishing gear that I own is now with UPS heading towards Island Park, Idaho. Well, that's not entirely true, I still have some gear about, but if I were to try and head out to the stream this evening I would be hard pressed to scrounge up complete kit.

Next Saturday the family is off to the Yellowstone region for a week of communing with nature and trying not to get eaten by Grizzlies. We're not roughing it. We'll be staying at a B&B on Henry's Lake so I don't have to worry about a Grizzly popping into the tent in the middle of the night.

Looking forward to spending a day on the Gallatin River and we'll certainly pack the rods around with us to grab some small stream action during the day. Of course, there's also Henry's Lake in the evenings. Rainbow Trout and Brookies of immense size. Woohoo!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Farmington River, 7.25.10

I've been fortunate to be able to fish pretty regularly over the past few weeks. Weekdays are a complete disaster with work, family, and all the chores of daily life. But weekends have provided a steady stream of a morning or evening fishing. Too little to be truly satisfying but enough to feel the electricity of life shaking on the end of my fly line.

A cool photo from Mid-June
I've been catching regularly but not spectacularly and had only moderate expectations for a trip out this weekend. I was glad when Jon suggested we fish together and was doubly pleased when he mentioned Steve would be along (or, as it turns out, we would be along with him). While there are times when I enjoy a solitary moment on the water, sport is generally a thing to be shared. Plus, you can learn a whole bunch if you're paying attention.

For example, I learned that Steve talks to fish. And, strangely, the fish seem to listen.

More importantly, I learned that he knows where some nice fish are living.

My evening began at a large, ecclesiastical pool where I cast emergers to well educated trout while awaiting Jon's arrival. I had a bunch of splashy rises, a couple of tugs on the line and a Brown to within striking distance of the net before he SDR'd himself. At least the fish were there and were interested. At Jon's arrival we departed for a juicier spot that had some nice fast water, tricky current seams and plenty of rising trout.

The walk to this spot is painful but worthwhile. I suppose that's a common feature of excellent fishing spots. A good fishing spot has the right habitat to attract our quarry. But an excellent spot has that and lacks other fisher persons who are overly familiar with said spot. This generally means the competition is unwilling to make the commitment to get to it.

Upon our arrival Steve pointed out some seams that he thought were productive and sure enough we were tempted by the sight of rising fish. It took a while to dial in exactly what was working. Initially it was a simple emerger pattern I had tied in Adams colors that got several strikes and a beauty of a Brookie (all eight inches) to the net.

Steve made good progress with a frequent bend in the rod and plenty of cajoling and lively banter with fish who were being less than cooperative. Jon spent this time figuring out how to cast to trout after too long casting in saltier locales. That said, he did manage a bunch of takes including one from a tempting Melvillian character who had himself situated amongst several boulders and their tricky currents.

And then things turned off.

Jon fishing against the Deep Bank

Undeterred, we continued to flog the water and search for what the fish might be willing to take. I fished some faster water with a large Stimulator and managed a dozen or more strikes but no solid hook-ups. I also managed to send my floatant down the river at some point but fortunately still had my desiccant as a back-up.

After a frustrating (A relative term. It was actually quite pleasant) hour of very little action we gathered in the shallows to compare notes, smoke a cigar, and engage in the light banter that gentlemen are accustomed to -- that is, we exchanged subtle barbs about each other's lack of skill and our own personal superiority.

And then it happened.

The fish turned back on.

Steve set off after I all but dared him to catch a fish that had frustrated me earlier. It's location between two boulders and a tricky current that dodged diagonally across the stream made for a dicey drift. I don't recall Steve catching that trout but he did find a close kin along the outside seam of the pocket.

The only fish picture that came out worth a damn.

Jon moved downstream and I rooted myself in a spot just below Steve were I proceeded to get over a dozen strikes on a #16 cream-colored Rosenbauer Emerger but nothing to show for it. This was frustrating.

I considered changing flies but deduced that perhaps it was I who was a fault here and not the fly selection. So, I paid more attention to the drift, managed my line more aggressively and, sure enough, started to get some hook-ups.

The two best fish of my evening were fat browns in the 16-18 inch range. One even began to get that subtle hook in his jaw. A handful of Rainbows rounded out those at the net. The light was failing so I didn't get a fair account of what my fishing partners were doing but I heard plenty of fish struggling at the end of a line and new nobody was going home with the odor of the striped beast.

With darkness firmly set and the moon not yet over the hills we headed back to the cars. Jon and I chatted as we waded out and Steve literally blind cast all the way back wading deep, without a staff, in the dark. Impressive. And futile. Hardcore.

At the car we sampled two delightful brews which was a capstone to a fine evening on the water. Thanks to Steve and Jon for some good company.

I think the only thing that would have made the evening better was a mouse fly....