Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dam? Damn! Seven levels of hell.

Froggy, Cold Water. With Trout.
My favorite trout stream is thirteen minutes from the house. Most years I fish it a couple of times. The past few weeks I've fished it about a half a dozen times which is a pretty good stretch given my work schedule.

The hatches have been very regular and the trout large and strong. I attribute this to the great water we had last year. Of course, I complained often when it rained like crazy all summer and fall but it seems to have resulted in something worthwhile.

If I take my time gearing up I can be on the water in about twenty minutes. If I'm in a rush and I've got a rod strung, I can be on the water in fifteen minutes. Last Wednesday I was ready to go and I was down at the mouth of a small tributary in what may have been a new record.

Dame's Rocket. From friggin' Asia.....
Dude, it's way too early in this report to be posting
flower pictures. Have some faith that you'll find a fish.
There wasn't much going on when I arrived and while there was some beautiful water right in front of me I had a vision.

There's a bend pool a quarter of a mile upstream right in the middle of a somewhat froggy section; wide and slow with little structure. A couple of months ago, while walking the dog, Ann and I walked that portion of the river. I spooked a trout out of the undercut bank in that bend. Perhaps he was still there.

The water up there is flat, flat, flat. Wading spooks everything to hell so most of the approach is spent scrambling, sometimes on all fours, through thick brush. You then slide into the river as near as you dare to the target zone and cast gently

I was lucky. When I arrived there was a sporadic caddis hatch and a rising fish right where I expected it to be. I cast to him through several fly changes. He didn't like what I had and I eventually put him down.

I gave the water a rest and moved upstream practically stepping on another rising trout. Coming around a bend, still bushwhacking, I hear the sound of a waterfall. There are no waterfalls on this stream.

It's a beaver dam.

Rodent Architecture.
I generally have a low opinion of the industrious rodent. He knocks down trees that shade the stream and his impounded water warms unnaturally.

But then I saw some trout rising in his pond. Maybe a bit of detente was in order.

The fish near the damn were spooked by my approach but there were a few more rising along the near bank. I saw a spot upstream where I could slide into the water and try a dry-dropper drift. Unfortunately, the vermin hadn't done a great job of clearing the path to the spot. Between here and there was every manner of man-made and natural barbed obstacle.

WTF? What's next, the beavers and
the trout laying claymores?
I worked my way up the bank, over the beaver gnawed punji sticks and waded deep into the mix of barbed wire, barberry (another friggin' invasive), blackberry and another half dozen barbed bushes.

Fortunately the new growth wasn't up yet so all I had to do was crunch through last year's growth. My hippers already leak so the extra pin pricks won't matter a bit. And through some sort of genetic defect miracle I seem to have an extra dose of clotting factor. I only lost a pint or so of blood.

The upstream spot looked far more appealing from a distance. Instead of a small sandy perch it was a three foot slide down a clay bank into about a foot of boot sucking slime. But from there I could cast to all the likely spots so I made the best of it.

I rested the water a bit after my sloppy entry, enjoyed some highland cheer and kept a keen eye out for large, sneaky rodents.

More flora?! Really? Where the hell are the fish?
Within a short while fish started rising along the bank and my offering floated to them. All took the dropper.

I'd like to say that my technique was flawless and that I picked off the fish in order upstream to down without one spooking the other.

In truth, I was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Spooked a few. Caught streamside brush. Dragged the fly. Missed strikes. But I did manage a few trout -- a fat Rainbow, a beauty of a Brown and one of what may have been last year's stream born crop of Browns.

Now it's almost dark and I'm stuck deep in the muck with seven levels of thorny hell between me and the field that's just behind the trees. I manage to make it back up the clay bank only slipping twice (remind me some time to tell you about the time the clay on Wappingers Creek tried to kill me).

I never made it back to the bend pool. I'm sure the trout is still there, still rising against that deep bank. Next time I think I'll try a streamer on a slow swing through there. Or maybe a dead drifted Woolly Bugger. Or maybe a mealworm.

Finally, a fish.
A wee bit older.

Okay, I took this on the way in. It was dark when I walked out.
And I went another way so I wouldn't have to crawl through more
damn prickers. I'm too delicate.


  1. Very well said.
    I to have experienced such outings, blood lettings, etc.
    It's worth it.

    1. Yes it is. You definitely see water that most others don't fish and hopefully some fish who are a little more gullible.

  2. A friend of mine that played semi-pro hockey got in a fight on the ice with an opposing player one time. My friend was quickly dealt a right jab that knocked one of his front two teeth out. In quick response he landed two good shots (but definitely didn't get the better end of the fight), before the fight went to the ice and was broken up. I asked him later about losing his tooth, and all he said was, "the pleasure was worth all the pain"

    ...glad you found some painful water.

    1. Yeah, the sick part is I've been back twice and those thorny bushes are growing fast.

      But the more it hurts the more I want to go back.

      Is that wrong?

  3. If that's Hell you can sign me up to the Dark Side (except for the thorns...)

  4. Wow, sounds like a fun time to me. Might need to add a machete to your fishing ensemble.


    1. We think alike. In another few weeks that area will be waist deep in thorny hell.

  5. It's wrong that you weren't on the Sound with me tonight catching endless striped bass. Plain wrong.

  6. That last photo is beautiful. On another note, are we related? We seem to fish alike and have like "adventures". Ouch!

    1. There's quite a brotherhood (including the sisters) across these blogs of folks who seem separated a birth. Glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I got "warned" by a beaver a couple of weeks ago on the Patapsco river in MD. He tail-slapped and scared the sh#t out of me. I thought a tree had fallen into the river. Then I looked downstream, saw his dam, saw him look at me once with a glare, then turned away.

    I said, Ok, I consider myself warned.

    1. I did see one beaver upstream cruising around but suprisingly he didn't warn me or come over. I suppose he gave me a pass as long as I didn't mess with the damn.