Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Trout

Saturday morning began with a drive north in the snow. When Sam and I pulled out of the driveway I could have taken a few shortcuts over hill and dale to get to the river quickly but instead stuck to the better traveled and better salted avenues. A prudent precaution given our previous experience but at the end of the day the snow just wasn't; the storm threatened more than it was capable of delivering.

The snow has generally been elsewhere this winter though I know not where. It's certainly not been in the mountains of California though it recently made an appearance in Colorado. Saturday morning it took a passing shot at the northeast but the hand wringing of weathermen was warrantless. There was enough white stuff on the road to make one worry about black ice and hitting the turns too fast but the drive was otherwise eventless.

I enjoy fishing with Dan Harrison and his brother Tom. They're guides who have mastered the art of telling you to correct your drift without making you feel like you're doing something wrong. They row a boat in all conditions without complaint. They also find fish.

Dan's been taunting me with photos of large trout during the past week or so. There's this one river up north that fishes well during the colder months. I fished with him last year and managed my largest Brown to date, something beyond twenty inches as I recall. Well worth the discomfort of mid-winter fishing.

I'd been looking forward to this trip for the past few days. Even though the weather threatened to make it miserable it was one of those trips that would only be postponed by something catastrophic. January was the first month I had not fished in quite some time, perhaps it's been years. While the demarcation of calendar months might be a false metric for the tempo of some things it's a significant measure of time for most things and its passing fishless was noted.

The day was cold as promised by the calendar but the wind was mild in the morning and we fished in relative comfort. Tom had come along with Dan and so both Sam and I got our own boats. While we both appreciated being up front I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get to fish with Sam directly. This was especially poignant when about an hour into the trip Tom and I heard a "whoop" downstream.

As we rounded the bend we saw that Dan had the net in the water and gave us a wave to come over; clearly the signal for a good fish. We were not disappointed. I don't recall the measure but this was a fat, football of a fish that pushed twenty inches. Sam was pretty pleased with himself as was I.

It's hard to smile when your lips are frozen.
This turned out to be a carbon copy of the trip from last winter. A large fish early followed by slow fishing through lunch and into the early afternoon.

Sam had another nice fish on an hour or so later though it came unpinned after a couple of minutes. I had two on that I can recall - saw a flash of one before popping the hook and the other came unhooked after charging the boat.

That seems to be common behavior in water that's in the mid-to-low thirties. As an angler it seems like the fish is charging the boat but in all likelihood we're probably just dragging the lethargic trout towards us until he wakes up and decides it's something he'd prefer not to do. A proper fight thus ensues.

This particular trout allowed himself to be dragged towards me though in the current at the tail of the pool I struggled to keep tension. I was further foiled by the fact that, despite a majority of the overhanging trees being swept downstream in fall floods, there was this one Maple hanging just above me which prevented me from moving the rod tip farther back. With a quick shake, the trout returned to his deep hole. That was my one real shot at a trout.

By two o'clock the wind began to pick up and Sam started to turn into a Popsicle. Dan rowed him downstream while Tom and I moved quickly from hole to hole doing a few quick drifts and moving on. There were no further bumps or tugs and by the time we got to the take-out the wind was starting to do its damage to me as well.

I'm still fishless for February but it looks like the weather will continue to be mild and I'll get out again, perhaps even this weekend if all goes according to plan. At least Sam is on the board for the year and started it in style. Now all we need is another inch or so of mercury in the thermometer and maybe a mayfly or two in the air.


  1. Wonderful tale.
    A job well done, Sam.

  2. The snow in the mountains of Northern California has improved in the last week. The summits have gotten a few feet and last night as low as 2500. We got dusted at 3200, but not enough to cause any problems.


  3. That's a beautiful brown! And looks like a fun, albeit frozen, day!

    1. Definitely a good time despite the temps though I am looking forward to fishing in short sleeves and Tevas.

  4. Awesome fish, must have been a nice effort on Sam's part to get him in the net. Surely, time well spent!

  5. I'm stoked for his stoke. Nice job fella.

    1. Yeah, seeing him pleased was worth the trip itself.

  6. Keys memories of a great day on the Deerfield with Dan Harrison. A tough morning with just a few takers, a very quiet mid-day and then long in the day, Dan looked way, way ,way down the river, "Do you see those fish rising?" I could barely see the end of the river. Once there we had a fantastic day with fish after fish rising to Sulphurs.

    Enjoyed the story and wish you water throughout the summer.

    1. I recall on trip on the Deerfield with Dan. It was April and it poured all day, it was cold, and the fishing was slow. Just at dark, as we were approaching the takeout, we passed under a bridge. The stocking truck must have just left. The place was thick with Stockies willing to take a #14 Parachute Adams. Sometimes you need stupid trout to end the day right.