Monday, July 13, 2009

'Red Legs' on the Saranac (fourth page)

PA. Fishermen in the Adirondaks (part 4)
___ ‘Red Legs’ on the Saranac ___
__June 13th 2009__
From the parking area, over looking the Saranac River, looked to be very inviting. The early sunshine beamed down on the wide open river showing good color of the translucent brown tinted water. Green leafed trees bordered the far bank as far as the eyes could see. A cool breeze could be felt as we stood there assembling our rods and gear for a morning of trout fishing. Before us, the water flowed with visible rippling surface current as it flowed over submerged, near surface, rocks in the waist high water. Upstream or downstream, a ways off, the open water flowed around protruding boulders that caused pocket waters if we chose to adventure to these locations. Our guide, Pat, was very knowledgeable and pointed out the deeper runs and seams. He exclaimed that the river is a caddis haven but suggested using streamers in the deeper water of the mouth of the tributary we would begin fishing.
Down at the mouth Jeff and I tied on various streamers and woolly buggers casting them out and then letting them swing before stripping them in. Jeff got caught up in small tree branches occasionally on his back cast while I found a nice opening behind me so as not to get hung up. Once in the water I realized I should have changed my spool to my weight forward line but I had already tied on a fresh 'Fran Betters' 5x knotted leader to my DT line back at the room. My 444 double taper line was new and with a little more effort I was able to cast it out pretty darn far anyhow. After dunking buggers for about a half hour Jeff and the guide, Pat, waded out into the more open waters of the river. I noticed a riser on the far bank and decided to go for it. I tied on a caddis dry but was unable to get the fly to the distant riser after all. After a few more casts aimlessly into the slow moving waters, without a hint of a curious trout, I headed out into the river also.
I noticed different sizes and shades of caddis hovering and tap dancing on the water. Fishing my way, between Jeff and Pat, I saw a splash from a rising trout a good distance out. Jeff and Pat were pretty much glued in their stance and I didn’t want to wade beyond their imaginary line. I stopped at the 'imaginary line' and tied on another shade of elk hair caddis. I didn’t go for the inconsistent riser right off but worked my casts, in steps, towards the distant trout. Switching caddis dries I finally got a trout to take and I called out to the two that I had one on. The brown didn’t have enough wildness in him to make much of a fight so I was able to bring him to hand pretty easily. I raised the trout by the hook, that just pierced his top lip, and shook it with my fingers and the 9” brown flopped back into the water and swam off. After switching again to various caddis imitations I caught another brown. I called out to Jeff that I was catching them on a tan caddis with ‘red legs.’ The body ribbing had to be of dark ginger or brown palmered around a tan body as opposed to the caddis I had palmered with light blue dun. Feeling confident I had the right shade of caddis, I now set my sights on the distant rising trout.
I false cast easily letting line out with each forward cast. At a slight angle, I started my last back cast and pulled line back through the rod guides for more line speed. With the line gradually unrolling behind me, I moved my rod behind and above my head and stopped. At almost the end of my back cast, with my index finger extended on my cork grip, I cast forward straight out in front of me and stop the rod quickly at about the 10:00 position. The line shoots out in a decent loop and I lower my rod as the dry falls just short of my target. I watch it drift upon the wavy water. With the brownish clear water color, it’s not hard to see the fly in the smoother wavy current. My next cast I let more line out and overshoot my target above the riffles. As the fly landed I mended the belly of the line upstream and this put my caddis on the riffles drag free. It was now a little difficult to see the fly waver in the slightly rougher water so I kept my eyes on the targeted fish below the riffles in the slower calmer water. Unexpectedly a fish came up before my target fish and by the time I reacted I was late. The fly pulled back and went air born, than dropped back to the waters.
Normally I don’t get another chance at the same fish with the same fly so I changed my fly to an egg laying caddis after noticing more caddis tap dancing upon the waters. The next cast I sharply cast a tight loop and lay the caddis between the ’two’ targeted fish below the riffles. I was going to wait 2 seconds than lift the caddis back off the water to imitate the egg layers. Within a second, one of the trout took the fly with a surface splash. Not having much slack in the line I easily pulled back the line and set the hook. The fish seamed to hesitate in the riffling water another second and than fought its way as I played it in. I released a fine looking 11” brown.
For the next hour or so we continued to fish dries in the wide river. From upstream Pat finally called out that we should be moving on to another spot on the Saranac before lunch. I turned towards him and called out “a few more casts.”
Pat mentioned that a trout was coming up about 35 feet or so behind me and pointed his rod tip towards a noticeable riffle in the water.
Jeff said “we couldn’t get him to rise for our flies, give it a try.”
My first cast fell on this side of the riffles and I watched the egg laying dry drift past freely.
“A little further out” Pat said “just below the riffles.”
On my next cast I laid the caddis at the end of the riffles and watched it waver atop the water. Wham, a trout whacked at it and I set the hook.
“Ok, I’m ready to go!” I said as I reeled in the 11” fighting brown.
I didn’t look up at the two but I could picture Jeff smiling at our guide, him knowing I like to show off now and then!
Our next stop was below a power plant. Pat told us that big trout hang out in the deep discharge water. Jeff waded the wall so he could work his buggers and streamers deep and back towards him. I placed myself where the discharged water entered the river so I could cast and fish both areas. It didn’t take long before I switched from buggers back to dry caddis. After netting a couple small browns Jeff finally entered the river upstream from me. Being that the river was narrower here, it was also deeper and wading out too far looked troublesome.
Jeff found a good seam, a ways out, and started to produce rises and fish successfully.
“What are you using?” I called out asking.
“Caddis” Jeff answered “red legs!”
Though we didn’t catch any spectacular big trout we were catching trout on dries and felt the morning went fairly well on the Saranac. Lunch was waiting back at the shop and the Ausable was waiting our arrival for the evening.

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