Hot Day on Cooler Waters
After catching a few morning smallmouth in the river on streamers I was getting bored. None were coming up for poppers and nearing noon the sun was ablaze and beating down upon me feeling like hot daggers. I had to get out of the sun. Back at the van I had an inkling about getting on the scooter and going for a long ride but I still had an itch I had to scratch or I’d suffer for another week.
Being a trout bum I was in need of some solitude and trout fishing. With the temperature around 85 and around 93% humidity there weren’t many places to get away from it and find cooler water. With the amount of nuisance ticks lately, hiking a small mountain creek in the forest wasn’t a good idea. The only other place to find cool trout waters were below a bottom release dam, and I knew just the place.
As I stepped off the bank and into the stream I immediately felt the cool water around my shins and knees. The vapor of the water rose up and I felt the cool moisture upon my sweat beaded pores. As I crossed the stream, out from the bank-side brush, I am met with a light, cool refreshing breeze. On the far side I took out my streamer box and knotted on a Woolly Bugger.
It was about 2:00 by now and time for a relaxing stogie. I pulled out a La Pearla Cameroon Figurado. I knew the toothy outer leaf tobacco would hold up in a clinch as I fish and the earthy cameroon seamed to go well with the forest surroundings. I lit the stogie and began to fish my way down stream.
When I got to the section I wanted to spend a little more time fishing I stopped and looked around letting the water settle and calm down. It was peaceful and serene. There wasn’t a sign of another fisherman for some time as far as I could tell. The fish shouldn’t be wary as long as I move slowly and not cause much water disturbance.
There were a few moths fluttering by and some came within an inch or so from the water surface. A few tiny midges danced on the water but I didn’t see any risers right off. Catching the first trout is always a relief as well as a boost in confidence. I decided to drift a nymph or two within the deeper water midstream. As I’m nymph fishing I get a glance of one fish rising down creek and heard a splash under the overhanging branches that shadow the water near the far bank. The fish down creek is much too far to cast from my location but the one cross stream is well within my range and ability.
After a ½ hour of nymph fishing without a hit I had enough and brought in the line. I still didn’t notice any mayfly or caddis about but I was about to make’m rise. First I tried a midge Adam but it wasn’t long before I felt it wasn’t going to entice any trout to the surface. I heard a heavy splash on the water near the far bank and turned to see a few bubbles on the slightly wavy current in the shadows. Normally I like fishing my beetle patterns on windy days but something appeared to be getting a hungry trout’s attention. I added a longer piece of 6x tippet and tied on one of my beetle patterns. With a sidearm cast, the beetle lands up from the shadows and starts to drift beneath the branches. It’s hard to see the beetle imitation in the shade of the trees so I kept my eyes roving for any sign of a stir. On my third cast I’m able to plop the beetle just underneath the branches and hoping the soft splash might draw attention. As I lift the line softly off the water for my back cast my line tightened slightly and than released. I wondered if it was a trout or maybe a drifting twig or something. I didn’t feel comfortable with not seeing my dry in the shadows and clipped it off. Something got a trout to rise out of the water and the only thing I seen casually fluttering about were a couple of small white moths. Why not? I knotted on one of my Spruce Moth patterns and doused the thick body with dry fly juice.
With a nice soft sidearm cast the moth pattern almost comes alive as it flutters just under the nearest branch and falls softly upon the shadowy surface. It doesn’t drift too far when I catch a glimpse of an elongated fish just below the surface. As soon as I seen the moth disappear I pulled the rod back, the rod flexed downward and the line tightened. There was an instant surface disturbance before the rod started to straighten as the fish rushed out from beneath the branches. It took deep into the mid section of the stream and headed down stream tugging on the line. I let tensioned fly line run through my fingers until he turned and faced upstream in the deeper current. I felt him tugging but he wasn’t getting all that aggressive trying to get away. Holding the rod upstream wasn’t putting much pressure on him so I brought the 4wt down and towards my side of the bank applying side pressure. This got him aggravated and he wasn’t going to let me dictate where I wanted him to go. He was strong enough and pulled towards the far bank. I quickly shifted the rod upstream and he followed apprehensively, tugging and jerking. Nearer to me he turned with a jerk and headed back midstream. I gave him line under tension until he turned upstream again. I brought in some line, held the rod and line with one hand as I reached for my net. With a big arc in the 4wt I guided the fish into the net! Bingo, I was holding my first trout of the day and it was a doozey.
One cast put my moth nearer the far bank, further than what I had expected. It was one of those perfect casts with a perfect drift. I watched with anticipation as the moth slowly drifted in the calm riffles. Wham, a mouth appeared and sucked it in. I reared back and it was like the other side didn’t give an inch…at first. Than it moved like a sawed log, down stream and deep. It picked up momentum with the current and I had no recourse but to give him line. I was almost puzzled, everything happened so fast, I started to wonder if I set the hook hard enough. He pulled line off the spool and all I could do was try to keep the rod steady and let him fight the rod force and reel drag. As he drove further he wasn’t twitching his head with tugs but was using brute force with jagged turns downstream. I finally raised the rod and it turned. It was if I could feel the length of his muscular body curve with tugging force before he swam upstream keeping his distance. Reeling in line on the mid arbor I was able to keep the rod bent. He kept deep and soon I seen my line cutting the water surface behind the surface wake of the heavy fish. I moved the rod closer to the water and downstream to cut down on the angle but still letting him take line. In, what looked like the deepest part of the water, he stopped for a breather perhaps. I took the initiative, reeled in more line and gave him a little tug upstream away from a possible submerged bolder that darkened the water. He hesitated a couple of seconds before he pulled away and swam back to where I first hooked him. In the shadows of the tree the water surface swirled and churned like a gator trying to drown its victim.
The tension in my fingers and hands started to alert my brain that I was gripping the cork handle maybe a little more tightly than I need be. My mind raced wanting this ordeal to end happily with this fish in my net. I didn’t even get a glimpse of it yet being it stayed deep and at a distance at all times. In my mind I conjured a picture of myself, standing at attention, arms braced holding on to an outward, downward bent fly rod with a fly line as tight as a guitar string. The trout moved towards me rising to the surface as the water brushed by its husky lengthy body. He kept himself subsurface not wanting to give in. Nearer to me it was if he knew he was defeated and was now ready to accept the defeat with a sportsmen like handshake. I didn’t admire him in the net too long before I reached in and unhooked the fake moth. I had to take a hold of him just to feel his weight before I released him back into his home.
Downstream I found a section that trout were rising to some unseen tidbits before my eyes. My beetle pattern picked off quite a few. Watching the trout turn towards the beetle as it passed and appearing to examine it before sipping it in was something not too many fishermen experience. The rainbows fought with energetic capabilities in the cool waters. A couple went air born above the surface almost like a circus act showing off its beauty and agility. The commotion evidently in time made the other trout wary and they quit rising to my beetle.
I seen a few small brown midges start to appear on the water and tried to match them with one of my own brown hackle midge. I only had one rise and miss in a matter of 10 minutes or so. I concluded that my day was a success and decided to call it quits.
On the way back home I stopped for a bite to eat before continuing on. The ride back seamed to take forever as the fatigue of the long day settled in. At home a cold beer completed the day as I relaxed into an evening of conjuring up moments of the day’s events.