Fathers Day Rainbows
Within 20 minutes I was lighting up my first cigar of the day after catching a surprised Rainbow. He took a Light Cahill that I sent gently drifting with surface bubbles into his feeding zone. He fought well within the 55 degree water, the tail waters of the bottom release dam. The Bahia Trinidad was just a cheap but smooth cigar for the late morning rise.
I got a tip earlier in the week that there was a Sulphur Hatch on the river. I’ve been fly fishing long enough to know that ‘following hatches’ on a trout stream is as predictable as a 5 day forecast. I haven’t fished this tail waters since last year and the cold 55 degree water and cooler air temperatures should be relaxing on this hot Fathers day weekend.
I arrived around 10am. I just figured, being the water is so cold in the morning and doesn’t warm until the sun hits it, there was no reason to get there any earlier. I was the only one in the small parking area when I pulled in and began getting my gear on. Because of the cold water I wore neoprene boot hip waders instead of the breathable lightweights. The weatherman said the outside temps should get to 80+ so just my bonehead fishing shirt was adequate under my warm weather fishing vest. I decided the 4wt. 9’ fast action rod could use a workout. I was just getting my vest on when a pick up pulled up and two guys got out and got there spinning outfitting gear together. They were pretty friendly and I was glad they decided to fish up stream throwing their hardware instead of fishing down river disturbing the water.
On the water I started out with a Blue Quill but quickly changed to a caddis once I seen a few flying about. I took my time casting about the shallow riffles and slow narrow deep rocky section before wading down river to the more open flat water. I didn’t see or could get anything to rise to my dries so I stopped a minute and looked about the water. The morning was quiet with a few chirping birds and the sound of water running over the pebbles and rocks of the shallows. The slight cool breeze happens to catch your breath if you turned into it while inhaling the fresh spring forest air. The sun was still rising and shadows of the far bank trees covered half the stream by now. I looked down stream and seen a few splashing risers in the wide long section of flat water. It appeared to be a perfect quiet dry fly fishing day and hopefully the fish would cooperate.
When I got down to the flat water I didn’t see any major mayfly hatches. I figured the fish were sipping midges or rising to emergers. As the breeze developed a little stronger the leafy tree branches along the far bank ruffled some and I seen a few fish rising to unseen insects that may have fallen. I went back to the Blue Quill and than the caddis before I seen my first Light Cahill floating on the surface. It fluttered a bit as it tried to lift off the cold water. It settled again on the surface and than was devoured by a lucky trout that it happen too near. Ah, ha, I thought!!
I tied on a Light Cahill and cast it in the slow stream of current towards the latest riser. The breeze made for a riffling effect on the water surface which was an advantage hiding any sign of my leader/tippet or any imperfections of my imitation. With that first fish being released I lit up my first stogie and was glad to get that first catch out of the way. With the commotion of that first fighting rainbow, that splashed about the area with our battle, I was sure the other trout were now wary of my presence.
Targeting rising trout on slow flat water can be frustrating but rewarding when the line tightens, the rod flexes downward and the rambunctious trout is fighting, determined to free itself from the hook set. If you’re both lucky the fish will come undone when you reach down for it without handling it. If not hopefully the hook can be removed quickly and released safely.
On the flat water I pinpointed risers, switched flies often and made some otherwise calm trout awfully upset with convincing imitations and good presentations. A couple of trout that were feeding beneath the far bank overhanging branches were fooled by my timely and well placed Badger Spider pattern. Though they both came undone soon after hookup it was satisfying enough for me. The morning went quick and my stomach started aching for food and I started to think about that cold beer in the cooler back at the van.
While I was fishing the flat water occasionally I would hear a splash a ways up stream. There was a trout feeding at random in the middle of the narrow section of stream I had passed by earlier. I waded to the shore line and slowly waded my way within casting distance of the feeding trout. So far my most productive dry was a Light Cahill so I knotted this on to my long section of tippet and tapered leader. With the breeze blowing up creek was to my advantage as I prepared for my one time inconspicuous presentation.Facing directly up river, near the bank, I started an angled back cast and forward cast. As the loop started to unfold in front of me towards the middle of the stream, I moved the rod tip directly in front of me and the loop widened. The breeze carried the dry a few feet in front of his feeding zone while the rest of the leader and fly line fell to the left of his feeding zone. I brought in slack line and continued trying to keep the line as straight as possible as the line drifted towards me and the dry drifted into the feeding zone. From about a foot or so, beneath the surface, I saw the long bodied trout rise to my imitation. In the instant it took him to break water for the dry, I flinched my wrist to the left, pulled in line and lifted the rod. It was like catching a kid red handed steeling apples from a tip toe high branch. A wild battle ensued but he gave up quicker than I expected. It was if he knew he’d been duped and instead of wasting all kinds of energy, just wanted to give up quickly and get this whole embarrassing moment over with.
After that I went up to the van for lunch. I relaxed at the van with a quick lunch and quenched my thirst with an Edmond Fitzgerald porter. It was a little bolder than what I expected but was smooth and thirst quenching. After that it was time to get back to fishing.
This time I planned on fishing my way down creek for different scenery and in search of more rising trout. I lit up a stout 5 Vegas Miami stogie and headed down creek. The first quarter of the smoke burnt quickly and I thought maybe it will burn down to the butt before I’d realize it. After the first quarter though it began to slow burn with much more flavor. The burn began to be uneven in the remaining 1/3 so I had to watch when I grabbed the butt section with my fingers as to not get burnt.
A ways down river I found quite a few feeding trout rising pretty frequently. The narrow straight section of river was flowing between a heavy canopy of pines and forest hardwoods before the water flowed over a man made rock falls. The banks were somewhat steep but not too high. There was no doubt I’d scare a few fish getting into the water but I felt if I stayed back far enough the ones up river might not know my presence. I dipped into the water as softly as possible. Immediately I saw one fish shoot across and another swam upriver to get away from my disturbance. The scooting trout must have alerted the others because not a trout rose for the next 5 to 10 minutes. I figured I’d wait them out and pulled out a Bahia Cetro #2. While I was enjoying my stogie I looked about and started to see a few small sulphurs emerging out of the water with a few Light Cahills drifting upon the surface water. It wasn’t long after that a few trout started to feed upon the surface again.
I caught a nice handful rainbow that was feeding dead center of the river flow. He battled the rod pretty much around the area I was fishing and I’m sure spooking a few of the others.
There was one trout that was feeding just out from the shadows of the pines off the far bank up stream. I cast the Light Cahill in front of him and let it drift. He rose to take a closer look, swirled and I twitched the fly back for the hook set that he never mouthed. He fooled me good and I was sure that pattern wouldn’t work on him again. I caught one more before I was getting more refusals upon further reviews of my fly. When I switched to a size smaller I again hooked up a couple more times and missed a couple.
There was this one trout that was feeding under a low hanging pine bough for some time. Most of the time he was sipping something floating down river while other times he’d rise with a splash. The cast was tricky getting the dry in front of him and yet not getting tangled in the pine bough. The wind came in handy again. After seeing a few more small Sulphurs coming off I decided to switch to a small Sulphur parachute. With a quick sidearm cast I stopped abruptly on my forward cast and the rod tip shot out line towards the far bank. I continued my arm swing, after the abrupt halt, and let the leader and tippet arc towards and under the pine boughs. It took a few casts and with the help of the breeze, on one cast, the Sulphur landed gently up river enough to be visible to the trout beneath the pine boughs. Within seconds he attacked the Sulphur like a woman attacks the only cannoli from a pastry plate. I yanked back the long length of line and instantly I knew I had a good hook set on him. He didn’t take the ’getting hooked’ thing too well. He shot out to the middle of the river and cleared water with a headshaking, body wiggle trying to free the hook. Upon reentering he surged down river, as I had to bring in line, and again torpedoed upward a couple of feet before dead falling back in. He had more energy as any trout I had caught thus far. He turned down river and than quickly u-turned up river. My fly rod straightened with this sudden action and I lost the tensioned line. He again splashed out of the water with the Sulphur stuck good into his upper lip. This gave me time to collect slack line and I had tension on him again when he submerged. Now it became a tug of war with me winning the tugging. I felt the solid body of this rainbow as I held him within my grip.
There was still a few trout rising when I decided to head back up river closer to the van in the flat section I started from. I was hoping for a big Sulphur hatch that never developed. I caught one more trout in the flat water before slowly fishing my way back to the van.
It was time to hit the trail by now. The light was fading fast behind the hill and shadows enlarged upon the water. I left the river as quietly and peaceful as I entered in the morning. It was 8:06pm when I opened the van doors and dressed for the ride home. A Don Tomas Cameroon, pinched between my lips, made for a good departing smoke for another rewarding outing.