Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vintage 'Bow' Hunting

Vintage ‘Bow’ Hunting
 I fit the ferrules together of the Vintage Shakespeare Wonderod 5wt. I attach the Martin Classic MC78 reel to the down locking reel seat. Due to the low water conditions of the mountain stream I’d be fishing I figured on using light weighted Woolly Buggers and Triple Threat streamers. I knot on a good length of 5X tippet to the tapered leader. After dressing warm in the 50+ degree weather, I put on my hip boots, vest and head down to the creek.
Peeking over a flat ledged rock I see a few of the stocked trout from a week or so ago. The creek isn’t a project area and is open to all tackle. I don’t mind fishing for stocked trout after a couple of weeks. I figure by than the fish left behind are more accustomed to danger and are spread out a bit. I also find a hold over or two from the spring stocking or from previous years. During the fall the water is usually low so minimal movement along the creek is a must. Polarized sun glasses are an additional help for possibly seeing the trout before they see me. Sometimes they’ll take a streamer so lightly that I might not even know it so seeing the take increases the caught ratio.
  I take the path up creek and enter the water in a shallow riffle. I take time casting the flexible Fiberglass rod and limp Cortland Sylk fly line. After getting the feel for it I cross the creek and circle around up creek from the trout I spotted earlier. Hunched in a semi-hiding position I cast out the light weighted streamer up creek from the holding trout. It takes a few casts to get the streamer to flow into the pocket they are stationed in and I feel the stoppage of the fly line. Not sure if I got a fish or the rocky bottom, and not wanting to spook the trout with a heavy pull if it is a snag, I wrist backwards softly. Sure enough a fish is on the other end but my pulling action isn’t hard enough to set the hook. I see the silvery oblong shape rise towards the surface with a twist and my hook lets go. A few more casts and nothing.
  I tie on a dark olive Wooly Bugger and am more accurate with my first cast. The bugger falls shy; of the flat ledged rock I stood on earlier, and sinks quickly. It swings into the deeper pocket and I feel a heavy swiping grab of the bugger. I lift the rod for the hook set, the line tensions and the rod tip dips. The trout rises with a head twist and turns deep, down towards the tail out. The wimpy tip flexes sharply but returns quickly to its natural straight-up shaft position. Another miss!!! After a few more casts the rest of the trout must be bored with my dealings and decide they don’t want to take a turn being hooked and quickly released without seeing the perpetrator.
  I slowly wade along the bank-side, down creek, than stand for a moment to enjoy the day’s scenery. The view is a fall stream fisherman’s heaven. Though the water runs low and clear the forest surroundings and autumn foliage makes for a serene environment. From above, cumulus clouds move slowly reflecting the unseen sun in the blue sky background. Below bare trees lean towards the water as their branches twist and reach out in all directions. Fallen leaves lay upon the forest floor as some gather upon the shallowest stream sections. For the lack of color, a few pine trees do give the calm looking forest a little more diversity. I take out a Dom Tomas Candela Churchill and light it up as I look down creek at the endless flow of water.
 Onward I slowly wade and fish my way downstream. Due to the low water conditions I find my weighted buggers are too heavy and catch bottom often. I tie on a small conehead streamer and proceed. At times I need to keep the rod tip up to keep the streamer from hanging up also. My casts are long with slow retrieval. Just out from a deeper bank-side run I see the flash of a trout and I’m ready for the take. Instantly I strip-set the hook and pull the rod rearward remembering that a softer rod needs a little more oomph for a good hook set. The rainbow dances on the other end in a foot or so of water swaying the rod too and fro. There is nothing like the feel and thrill of a trout fighting a fiberglass fly rod. From the cork handle I can feel each pull, twist and tug instantaneously. The slightest veer of the fish is followed by the rod tip curving towards the action. I swing the rod up creek and the rainbow follows hesitating now and than with quick resisting spurts. The rod in turn flexes downward towards the trout but regains its strength and moves the trout towards me. Finally a rainbow comes to hand.
 Later on in a shallow riffle I see a few trout just hanging out like lazy fellows on a street corner. Their white lipped mouths are evident in the slow moving current. I backhand a cast up and across from them. The streamer catches the current and heads towards them. I twitch the rod tip and the streamer fibers wave in the current. I hold the rod tip at an upward angle and let the streamer swing in front of them. One takes notice and swims towards the streamer with caution. I have to keep the streamer moving upward and towards me so it doesn’t hit bottom. With the rod still at an angle I slowly retrieve the streamer with short smooth strips and let it dangle now and than. The rainbow is satisfies and lightly lips the streamer like a warm wet noodle. I lift the rod instantly and the line tensions as the fish turns in disgust…with a hook set in its lip. The other fish dart away as the rainbow wrestles with the tight line. The rod again quickly reacts to every maneuver that the rainbow attempts to unhook himself. It’s not long before the rainbow concedes.

 For the next couple of hours I continue with the same strategy. Rainbows are fooled and make the Wonderod come to life with plenty of action. A drizzle starts to fall from the sky as it turns gray. I head up creek, pausing for a few casts before getting back to the van.

 I drive down creek further to a new area. The rain has stopped but the cloud cover keeps the brightness of the sun to a mild glow. The water surface glistens with the reflecting sun rays off the existing clouds as shadows, from the forest trees, darken the bank-side flow. The big pool, forward of the wide section of shallow riffles, holds trout as usual. There’s not much space between the bank-side cliff and brush for hiding my presence. The fish are wary and swim away like a crowd dispersing from a poor performing political speaker. I can’t even get one to follow the streamer after a quick glance.
 I cross the creek at the wavy, fast moving riffles and get ready for action on the other side. The creek broadens and from the bank I cast across and down creek. I let the streamer swing and then strip in with no results. Down creek I can’t produce any strikes near a fallen tree so I go around it and have to cross again being not able to proceed any further do to the deeper water and sharp cliff. I wade within the shadows of the trees and cliff. At an outward bend the water flows quickly away. With my movement I see a trout swim up against the near side of a submerged log. I try for him unsuccessfully. From where the submerged log lays a thick branch extends from the creek bed towards the far shore. This creates a deep ‘V’ path of water that flows before rising over a few partially submerged branches. I move up creek a bit and cast towards the far submerged log. I extend the rod tip and let the streamer dangle and sway with the oncoming converging current. It doesn’t take long for a savage attack and the hook sets with the hard strike. I power the rod up creek to keep the trout from swimming deep below the submerged logs. My knots hold tight and I’m able to coax him out from the danger. I can feel he is a heavy fighting trout as he tries to escape with force. I get him in more open water and he tames a bit. Closer he tries to dart away from my hand but the sharp arced fiberglass rod gives no more and he comes to hand.
I try the same technique on similar casts and am rewarded with another healthy fighting ‘bow’.
  The next couple of hours before dark I continue making my way down creek. Unexpectedly I catch a rainbow in a thin riffle hugging the bank. One of my last nice size rainbow comes while holding up in the tail end of a pool just before the water crests over a wide section of shallow pebbled stones.
  There are about 4 trout that I’m able to distinguish across and down creek. Within the shadows I’m pretty sure they hadn’t noticed me. I pull out line from the Martin reel, it clicks like an old rusty chain on a slow spinning sprocket, and make ready for a distant cast. With long strokes and a couple of false casts I get the streamer well ahead of the group. The current before them drifts the streamer right in their zone. I lift the rod up creek trying to make sure the streamer doesn’t move into the group, not wanting to snag any. When my streamer gets nearer to them a couple of trout dart forward and there is no doubt that one of them would strike the swinging streamer. With a hard tugging yank on the other end, I set the hook and the shallow surface water boils with disruptive activity. The fighting trout appears to not know which direction is the best direction for escape. She fights a bit in the same general area before trying her luck hastening up creek and towards me in deeper water. I get a good visual of her as she turns again for the tail out. Holding the rod steady I let line slip through my fingers with good tension. She swings around in an arc and I bring her along side of me.
 After another half hour the evening light starts to fade quickly. I step onto dry land and head for the van. A cold bottle of Coors original satisfies my thirst as I change out of my fishing attire and put the rod and reel away. Somewhere in the distant I hear an owl hooting above the gentle flow of riffling water of the mountain stream.




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