A Bugger Kind of Day
We stood randomly spaced in a line like participants at a turkey shoot only we were knee deep in 39 degree water and our weapons were fly rods!
When I stepped out of the van, within sight of the creek, there was a guy already with a bent rod playing a trout. Nearer the shop door I saw three other fishermen testing their luck. The fly shop owner said fishermen did well catching trout yesterday on a variety of nymphs. After talking a bit and spending 30 some dollars I went back to the van to suit up. I noticed the creek water had dropped from the week before with just a tinch of color. Enough to hide the bottom but clear enough that the trout should be able to see stoneflies atop the surface should they hatch under the cloudy sky.
So there I stood, with 4 other fly fishermen, casting nymphs and drifting them under an indicator. I was glad I put the extra fleece pull over on as it kept the chilling breeze from penetrating through my otherwise clothed body. The darken gray sky gave an uneasy feeling of rain. There was dampness in the air that might be a hint that a rain shower was coming our way or just the moisture in the air from the melting ice and saturated ground. A couple of gentlemen hooked up now and then within long intervals. Another fly fisherman showed up and positioned himself to my right. Within about 15 minutes he hooked up and continued occasionally for the next hour. I noticed that some of the fish, suckers and trout, were swimming sideways as he brought them in. He was using a tandem set up with at least 11 feet of leader/tippet under his indicator so I wasn’t too impressed.
As the morning wore on I had seen 3 different rises to some unseen midges on the surface. I couldn’t resist and tried for them with a dry stonefly and an Adam midge without success. I went back to bottom dropping with a Picket Pin and a Hares Ear.
I caught my first trout, a rainbow, on the Picket Pin. This got me thinking. The rainbows might start to be getting active as noon draws near. Taking the Picket Pin gives me the idea that they might not be just lying on the bottom or at least willing to rise for a passing meal below the surface. The rainbow I caught fought aggressively in the 39 degree water so they are quite active with a hook in their mouth. When the guy to my left decided to leave this gave me room to cast a Woolly Bugger and I didn’t think twice about giving it a try. On my third cast I felt a swipe. On my fifth cast I was playing a frisky rainbow towards me with a white bugger in its lip. He flipped out of the water three times, showing his size and acrobatic ability, before getting him to my net.
The nymph fishermen kept nymphing, I kept with Woolly Buggers and the guy beside me brought a fish or two in sideways at times.
Some of the strikes I got I could tell were short strikes. Others were swipes at the bugger as if to play with it like a cat swats at a wounded mouse. Occasionally I’d hook up and bring a trout in or lose it to an aggressive fight. During the third passing of a light shower it didn’t look as if it wasn’t going to stop. I waded out and went up to the van for a rain coat and a couple more cigars. I had a feeling, rain or not, the catching was only going to get better.
Back on the water I started up from the big hole everyone had been fishing. I added a little more weight to the leader and worked the shallower riffles fishing my way down creek. A couple of kids showed up and filled the gaps between the other fishermen at the deeper hole even though it continued to sprinkle. I waded around them and continued casting buggers in the tail out and the quicker current beyond. I hooked up just after the tail out; landed a nice brown I caught near the far bank and lost another just before the bridge.
The rain started to come down a little harder so I waded under the bridge to relight my stogie.
Once I got down from the bridge you would of thought I was throwing bird seed to a bunch of cooped up chickens. I was getting fierce strikes, holding grabs and tailing swipes at my Woolly Buggers. The ones I did get a hook into put up fierce battles in the quicker current. I found trying to bring them towards me in the quickened current ended in lost fish. When I felt I had a good sized trout on I waded near the bank and brought them towards me in the slower and shallower current. Most of the fish I landed were only lip skin hooked which is why I figured I lost some in the faster current.
The action didn’t let up for some time. I was happily alone and hooking into aggressive fish despite the rain shower under the dark sky. My stogie burned out and was too wet to relight so I doused it in the water and put it in my vest pocket. When the strikes finally stopped I decided to head back to the big hole.
When I got within sight of the hole there was only one lone fly fisherman still standing. He was fishing the inlet current towards the big deeper hole. It was time for me to see if those trout wanted some meat instead of the small morsels of a nymph.
It didn’t take long to land a rainbow out of the hole. Within 10 minutes the other fisherman left. I had the whole creek to myself. I worked the big hole and the tail out riffles pretty thoroughly with buggers picking up a few more trout. It wasn’t until I broke off on a back cast that I started to wonder what time it was. I checked my watch and it was about 5:15. I leaned my Scott rod against a slab of ice, that hadn’t melted yet, lying along the bank and proceeded to try and add a section of tippet to the leader I had left.
The bifocals, on my polarized glasses, were wet and made my vision through them distorted. I looked at my Spuds lens cleaner cloth, hanging from my vest, and it was pretty wet. The front of my shirt was wet also. I wrung out the cleaning cloth as best I could and wiped the lenses in hopes not to impair my vision. I found, at the right angle, I’d be able to see the knots without much problem. I pulled out a section of 4X tippet and began the procedure in tying a double uni knot connecting the 4x to the leader. My finger tips were wet and chapped from the cold air from fishing in it all day. I didn’t have much feeling in my finger tips so being able to see the tag ends was very necessary. After making the first knot around the leader I started to wet the knot with saliva and kind of chuckled to myself as the leader/tippet was already wet. I pulled it tight and tied the leader knot to the tippet. I pulled both lines in opposite directions to clinch the knots and they came together in the form of two big rain drops.
I reached back into my back pocket and pulled out my big Perrine fly box that held my Woolly Buggers. I selected an olive bugger and used an improved clinch knot to tie it on the end of the tippet. With a short strip of lead matchstick I twisted this on the leader just above the double uni knot. I picked up the Scott rod and grabbed the wet cork handle. I was back in business and ready to go.
“Just one more trout” I thought, “maybe two!”