Saturday, July 28, 2012

Size Mattered

Size Mattered

Sometimes it happens. It just eats at me like an oncoming flu though I know it’s just a yearning. It will bug me to no end. I could have caught more trout if I only had the right size. It wasn’t that I was totally ill prepared; I just never figured size mattered so much. The temptation became too much and I had to go back, soon. Back to see what I could accomplish with the correct flies and being the only one on the stream for the day.

 The weekend had passed and though I had fun on my Sunday outing I knew I could do better with a more precise collection of caddis. I just had too many refusals and no shows then I felt were acceptable and it’s been eating at me since.

 During the middle of the week I tied #16 and #18 caddis in precise color and size that I had swatted down the past Sunday. I stayed up till 1:00am the night before and conjured up a Katydid pattern also. My symptoms were subsiding.
 The weatherman called for a 30% chance of rain in the morning, of the weekday I was planning on fishing, with possible passing thunderstorm, I was still going. During the morning drive under overcast skies, and sometimes dark clouds, I thought positive.
 Even when I hit misty conditions and partial wet roads I kept thinking the day would turn out fine. When I got to the stream, without rain, my symptoms were practically gone. I hurriedly got my gear and grabbed my two piece SAS rod that was already set up, in the back of the van, from the weekend. I didn’t waste time meandering downstream as usual but cut through the woods right to the hot spots I left Sunday.

 I stood on the bank looking for any risers before slipping into the water. It appeared the water wasn’t as high as it was the past weekend and flowing more clearly but still the wavy current and river bottom kept the trout well camouflaged. The fish were there Sunday and there was no reason for them to vacate the area. I also know they’ve been fished over by a lot of fishermen with a lot of different patterns. Unlike many fishing project areas these fish didn’t mind as much. They were like a transplanted herd of elk or urban deer that get used to people being around. They will feed or lay about unless there is a major disturbance or sudden interruption in the current before scurrying away. Sunday, trout were rising to caddis within rods length. Some raised just aside my fly line as it drifted with the surface current, so they weren’t line shy. On the other hand it was if they seen my tippet tied to the hook eye. Some would rise to take a closer look at my imitation, refuse and within seconds slurp a natural near by.
 I stepped into the water and waded a few more steps outward and downstream some. Being it was morning I knotted on a Yellow Sally and cast it out upon the wavy current. It didn’t take me too long to change to something else being I seen no rise attempts to my fly. I had tied up a few Katydid patterns the night before just for something different. Being there was no surface activity; I figured just maybe, a trout would like a nice big breakfast.
 I knotted the 6x tippet to the #10 curved hook. I knew this wasn’t the proper X factor to hook size but I hated to clip off the 6x knowing I’ll need it later for caddis. I applied plenty of dry fly dope to the light olive floss body and head. I cast upstream and got a look see on my 2nd drift. With another cast, towards the middle of the stream, I moved my rod up river and then slowly led the Katydid downstream. The take was a non-aggressive gulp as if the trout knew it couldn’t fly away but wanted to gulp it up quick enough before any other trout got a notion too. There was a big grin on my face and a feeling of satisfaction of my new tie.
 The rainbow fought aggressively within the cold water trying to lose the hook. It was a big deal to me that I caught the first trout of the day on my new Katydid pattern. Over the days time I caught one more on the pattern, missed a grabber and had at least 2 lookers.
 After that I switched to a hopper pattern and took another rainbow

Katydid pattern

Crazy Leg Hopper Pattern

 Still not seeing any risers I went up around the bend, also where I caught fish on top on Sunday. This time I spotted a couple of risers. I crossed the shallow riffles towards the far bank. I noticed very few caddis about but evidently there were enough to get a few trout to feed on top. My #16 and #18 caddis imitations worked great fooling these trout. The smaller size fooled way more trout than the larger ones I had to use Sunday. I tossed out the Katydid or Hopper pattern now and than but it was the caddis that the trout seemed to be keying on. 

After awhile I decided to take a stroll down river before lunch. I didn’t catch anything in the half hour or so, so I headed towards the van.

 Sitting alone in the parking area I enjoyed a homemade sub, a couple of pepperoncinis and corn chips washed down with a micro brew. 

It was about 2:00pm by now and time for a good stogie after a satisfying lunch.
I lit up a Bahia Icon. From out of the box, when I received them, I recall the outer leaf to be a bit on the bitter side as if tasting a leaf right from the stalk. The smoke also was a bit bitter during the first ¼ or so. After a couple of weeks in the humidor I hoped this would take some of this bitterness out. The outer leaf had just a touch of bitterness this time and the bitterness in the smoke was much tamer. Maybe it is the nature of this cigar. It wasn’t overpowering by any means and even gave the cigar a bit of sweetness to the darker wrapped outer leaf.

As I walked back along the bank of the stream the clouds darkened the sky. I could almost smell the moisture of rain in the breeze that would filter through the trees and surround me every now and then. I was relaxed, already having quite a few trout caught earlier, and decided not to be so anxious. I cast out and about aimlessly but once I spotted a rise I tempted it until it gave in. I’ve been known to cast enough dries continuously to sporadic or no rising fish to create my own hatch as I’ve been told by others.

 In about a ½ hour rain showed up in sprinkle form. I zip locked my camera, in my shirt pocket, and continued catching trout in the warm sprinkling rain. When I heard a rumble of thunder I crossed the stream and stood under the forest canopy hoping the rain would pass. When it slowed some I went back out and again tried to entice trout to rise as the raindrops dimpled the water surface.

 There was, I figured, two trout that fed in a slow back eddy out from the far bank both Sunday and earlier in the afternoon. The surface current was almost nonexistent and the fish would rise at will whenever they pleased. They refused, not even rose for a look, when I tried for them. My caddis just wouldn’t sit in the almost motionless water long enough before the current between us swept my fly line down, with the imitation being dragged through the slow pool. The rain was coming down a little harder now, loud enough that I could hear the raindrops tapping on the green leaves and my straw cowboy hat. Under the leafy banks the water wasn’t as disturbed by the rain and a trout still fed on the surface occasionally in the back eddy. I moved mid stream, for a better angle and felt the quicker current against my knees and lower thighs. I side armed a couple casts under the outreaching branches onto the surface near the feeding trout. Maybe it was my 7th or 8th cast in the vicinity that the trout finally rose and with that the bubble swirl was obvious. A quick wrist set and I had an unpleasant rainbow on the end of my line. It took off down stream in the faster current. The battle was like trying to control and retrieve a swerving kite in a windstorm. Trying not to let the kite tangle in nearby tree branches and not letting the string over tension and break. I got him in successfully and released him as water dripped from the brim of my hat.
 After a couple more casts, in the rain, I caught a tree branch trying for one more sporadic feeder. The tippet broke while I shook the branch like a squirrel playing about on a limber limb. With that I called it quits as it was obvious the rain wasn’t going to subside and the sun had gone elsewhere.

 Through the woods I made my way towards the road. My straw cowboy hat now felt like a ten gallon hat. My mesh vest and shirt were drenched enough I felt like I was hauling a six pack of beer.

 As I walked towards the van, on the gravel, rocky roadway, I must have looked as if I had fallen into the river. I suppose most 50+ year old fishermen might have been embarrassed being seen this way, wet to the bone, carrying a fishing rod as if not knowing when to get out of the rain. Not me, I’m just a trout bum, this happens occasionally!!!


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