Sunday I decided to fish for leftovers. These are the fish that survived the onslaught of fishermen during the spring and summer. Fishing waters that are open to the general public and all types of fishing throughout the year. The ones that are wary of a sudden unexplained shadow or sudden change of undercurrent. These fish I consider are more of a challenge than those in State Project areas or private stocked waters. These fish aren’t usually ones to brag about in size but the challenge is rewarding non-the-less in my opinion!
After going fishless at Salmon Creek, in the early morn, I decided to fish a small trout creek that meanders under pines and laurel in the ANF. An out-of-the-way creek where skinny water flows over exposed rocks and timber in an array of constant hazards and trout cover. A creek you have to believe the trout are there and fish it methodically and with patience.
Midmorning I arrive and find the creek is running clear and shallow for the most part. The few trout should be holding near the banks under cover from birds of prey. They may also be holding in the deeper riffles waiting for a quick meal to pass by before traveling to a safer unexposed place beneath cover. I wade my way downstream making long distant casts with a 9’ foot leader so my fly line doesn’t alert the fish. My subconscious keeps aware of my footing upon the pebbled and stony creek bed. My main concentration is on placing my shortened triple threat minnow imitation where it needs to be. My casting stroke is delicate, with my three weight short Hardy rod, wanting my imitation to land softly upon the water.
Near a down bank-side log I drop the triple threat along side it. It swings further downstream and into the tail end of the streamlined riffles. I feel a quick strike and wrist set the hook. I work the trout through the shallow choppy water. A slim leftover rainbow comes to hand.
Against the far bank a rocky ledge extends out about a foot above the water. A pine bough hangs low just upstream preventing a sidearm cast beneath or into it’s dark shadow. I can only hope a near enough drift will entice an unsuspicious trout out from the safe shelter and into more open water. I delicately cast upstream from the shadows and as the triple draws near I jerk the rod tip a few times to give my minnow imitation more action. I catch a glimpse of a trout flash out from beneath the rock ledge but miss my offering. My imitation drifts downstream as I watch for any movement beneath the clear rippling of water. I feel the trout entered the shallow riffles in hopes that another minnow passes by. I flip the triple threat out of the water towards me and reel in some to shorten my line for my next presentation. I flip cast beyond the riffles and let it drift to the slower water below. Slowly I strip in the imitation until I feel it is within sight of the trout beneath the riffles. As I let the triple threat waver below the surface current I see the sensitive rod tip flex slightly. I wrist back the cork handle and feel the jerky tugs of the brook trout fighting the rod strength and current. I win the battle and a slender leftover brook trout surfaces.
In a narrow shallow run I feel a peck at the tail of my shortened triple and see enough of a flash to know what’s below. I bring the leader in and knot on a latex caddis. Holding the rod high, I let the caddis drift through the seam and into the slower water. The second drift through I see my exposed leader straighten and lift the rod tip with just enough force to easily set the hook. A small wild brookie fights furiously towards me.
By now I reach my limit as I know the walk back to the mini-van will be a wet one. I wade out of the ankle deep water of the stony creek bed and onto the sandy bank. I follow the widened ATV trail up creek stopping only momentarily to light a Fuente Deluxe. Drops of water now fall from my cap bill being unable to absorb any more wetness of the rain. I can feel the weight of the absorbed water in my flannel shirt. By the time I get to the lane, which leads up to my van, the rain has lessened. I decide to hold off and walk down to the deep pool that’s at the bottom of the lane.
Water flows over a man made log jam, integrated with rocks, and into the large pool area. I decide to tie on a heavier weighted triple threat and cast far and near in the wide deep water. I work the triple threat with slow than fast retrieves. I don’t feel any strikes or see any trout following it as it comes within my vision.
The sky turns dark and the rain begins to fall again. Standing in the open now I start to feel the coldness of rain water through my Duo-fold and medium weight Polypropylene shirt. I still don’t want to call it quits as the quietness and solitude is so relaxing even though I’m pretty much wet clean through.
I walk up, the small grade, above the log jam. I see the water is slightly discolored like a Kalua and Cream mixed drink. Earlier a few trout were holding ¾ a way cross stream just before an overhanging branch. I had tried for them but, in the clear water, they avoided any offering I showed them. With the water discolored now I have the advantage and decided to give it a try. I tie on a white bunny leech for my first cast. I conjure up the image of the creek bed from my earlier experience.
Three quarter the way down stream the trout were holding in front of or to the far side of a flat sturdy rock. A couple of feet from the flat rock, towards me, is a 3 inch limb stuck fast to the bottom. With the tinted water I can no longer see anything below the chocolate water. My first cast is towards the unseen flat rock. I stop my forward cast and I figure my leech falls just to the right of the flat rock. I also figure I’m out of range of the 3” limb so I let the leech drop a little deeper before starting to short strip it in. Within a few feet, out from my rod tip, I catch a flash and my line straightens with the strike. I instantly wrist set the hook and I feel the trout, head shake and tries to pull away beneath the water. I let some tensioned line out as I raise the rod. The fish tries to fight across the creek but I force it to swim upstream following my bent rod. I force him to surface and I gently scoop him up in my net. Looking closer I am surprised to see I caught a leftover brown trout. I release him back into the chocolaty water.
Two more casts and sure enough I catch the limb. After breaking my leader I call it a day and head to the van.
Back at the van I snip off the lit end of the cigar and change into dry clothes. After wiping dry my rod and putting it in its tubular case I grab a jug of Mississippi Mud and take a long swig. The ’Black & Tan’ goes down smooth and hits the spot!! I sit in the driver’s seat as the heater warms while eating the leftover half of a Subway spicy Italian and finishing my jug of beer. Time tics away as raindrops continue to fall while I relax in my warm dry van.
On my drive towards Cooks Forest I put the short stub of the cigar to my lips and lite it up. It turned out to be a nice day for leftovers!