Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fresh Cigars, Wine and a Fly Rod

Fresh Cigars, Wine and a Fly Rod

I had the cycle already packed to take me trout fishing. At 10:00am the temperature was only 41 degrees, I opted to take the van for the hour plus drive. After loading my fishing gear in the van I packed a cooler and headed down the roadway.
 I was getting low on cigars so my first stop would be at Slippery Rock Cigars. It isn’t that far out of the way and I knew I could get a fresh box there. After I bought a box of Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte Madrid I couldn’t wait to smoke one. Before I ever left the parking lot I was already dipping into the box. After sliding off the cellophane I took a big whiff of the fresh brown bold overleaf. I graced my taste buds with dampening the Honduran Sun-Grown wrapper. After letting the sulfur burn off the match I lit the end of the 6 ¼” cigar. The flavor was bold and a little on the rough side at first but I was sure it would smooth out. After a couple of weeks in the humidor, at home, I’m also sure it will be of full flavor and more enjoyable.

 When I pulled into the parking lot, near the trout stream, there looked to be quite a few fishermen along the creek for a Tuesday. I noticed a fellow, in the riffles, with water below his knees so I decided to wear my waist waders. After putting my wading gear on I decided on my 4 weight 9 foot rod. It was a bit windy with stronger gusts so I was sure the fast action rod would be my best choice for the day. I already had all my fly fishing necessities in a fanny pack so I strapped this around my waist. I took a couple of Padilla Fumas to go as I was still puffing on the Sancho Panza.
 Down on the creek I got myself some room between the spread out crowd. It appeared they were all nymph fishing with or without indicators. I tied on a Wooly bugger and within three casts had my first rainbow tight lining it towards me! 

 After a hard strike, in the riffles, snapped the tippet at a knot, I decided to put on a fresh 5x tapered leader. After about 15 minutes of not another strike I went around the other fishermen and continued on.
 I dropped the bugger right up against the bridge abutment on the far side of the creek. I swear the bugger never had a chance to drop too deep as I felt the tug like the bugger got caught on a small drifting branch. I brought the smaller trout in without much trouble. After making sure there were no more hungry trout, under the bridge, I continued down stream.
 I stopped just up creek from a fellow fishing a tail out of a deeper pool. I watched him catch a few trout on nymphs. I couldn’t get a strike on the buggers and streamers I offered so I decided to go to the dark side and fish attractor nymphs.
 This is mostly rainbow waters and rainbows love red. I knotted on a bi-color San Juan and an early stonefly as a dropper being I seen a few stoneflies about. With a little extra weight, so the offerings would bump the bottom, I drifted the patterns without an indicator watching my fly line tip. On one drift the tip dropped noticeably and I lifted the rod for the hook set. The rod came alive with a spirited rainbow on the tight line. He had taken the San Juan. 

  Continuing, fishing in the same area, I caught one more trout before I snagged on the bottom and broke off. The guy, fishing the tail out, decided to leave and let me know his last few trout he caught were on a Hare’s Ear. With more stoneflies about I decided to fish a small stonefly beneath a Picket Pin. I waded down a bit, towards the tail out and began drifting my offerings.
 The fly line tip dropped suddenly, almost at the end of the drift as if my patterns should have been rising. I jerked the rod upstream for the hook set. The fast action rod flexed deep before I felt a heavy fighting fish in the other end. I knew this wasn’t an average trout so I played him with caution. He was a bit feisty at first, determined to throw the hook, but quit the head thrashing as it tired out. When I put my gear in the van, at home, I forgot my net. I felt the best way to land him was to get him close to the bank in the shallowest water. While playing the trout I cautiously backed up towards the bank. He gave a few escape attempts before I got him safely to the bank where I could dislodge the well placed stonefly hook.

  Changing nymphs often I caught a few more trout before deciding to continue on down creek. I knotted on a bugger and covered the water as thoroughly as I could. I caught fish in the most likely places and also in some pretty shallow water that I didn’t expect.

I was having a field day.

 Down creek some I was up creek from a fellow who was catching quite a few trout on his stonefly nymph imitation. I caught a few trout, just up creek from him, before swinging down creek below him.
 I was making long casts, trying to keep from trout’s view, in the knee deep clear water. I had taken the split shot off some time ago and letting the bugger swing and drift in the slower moving current. 

  In a faster run a trout struck at the bugger hard and I managed to safely set the hook without him snapping the line. He was holding in the riffling water with side to side swimming motions. I didn’t want to force him out without tiring him out some so I just kept tension on him until he decided to commit to an energy draining skirmish. He skirted up through the riffles and I was able to see his long silver body cresting the surface. I kept the rod, almost touching the water, trying to keep the trout underneath the riffling water surface. Once he was up creek I got him turned around and, with the help of my glove net, got him cradled in my hand. 
 My cast was up against a boulder looking wall against the far bank. It was in the shadows of the overhanging fir branches that made for a nice dark place for trout to hide. It took a sharp quick sidearm cast, to get the bugger under the branches, but I did so and I placed it pretty much where I wanted to.
 As the bugger swung through the darker water I anticipated a strike at any moment. It wasn’t till the line started to straighten out when I felt the hard tug. The rod arced down creek as the fish took off in haste. He scrambled beneath with some toughness and agility that I was afraid he would come loose. I let him have line a couple times trying to keep him on as long as possible and trying to land this durable trout. I finally got him to hand safely and realized I caught a beautiful colored hold over rainbow. 

 After catching a few more trout I decided to head up creek and fish a bit before heading out.

 I wanted to fish the faster water but there were two older gents fishing it. There were three younger guys fishing the deeper slower water so I decided to fish the lower part of the riffles. The rainbows evidently decided to put on the hungry feed. Maybe the trout decided to move up, out of the deeper section, and look for food in the knee deep water. What ever the reason I started to hook up to rainbows within a few casts for about 20 minutes or so. These rainbows were frisky and erratic beneath the surface. A few came shooting out of the water trying to throw the hook. After things started to slow down I figured a few more casts and I would leave. It was getting near 5:30 pm and I had a long drive home.

 My cast was far across the creek and I let some slack line out to let my bugger drop deep before the current swung it down creek. I had just one small shot on to get it down quicker and keep it down deep as long as possible. When the trout struck it there was no doubt, by the force and heaviness I felt with my gripping hands, that I had a lunker on the end of my line. With a couple of quick jolts and heavy tugs he muscled his way closer to the far bank. I kept good tension on him, between my fingers, as he fought in the riffling water splashing the surface as he rose to the top. He turned back towards the deeper water and tension line slipped through my fingers. Gingerly, and consciously, I backed up towards the bank. When the big trout held tight, beneath, I turned and seen a fellow watching me from the bank. The first glance I took was to see if he had a net but I wasn’t that lucky. My only hope was to tire the trout out and bring him to the bank. The bank was a short drop off and not like a smooth transition of a gradual sloping surface. Within a foot of the bank I held my ground and we watched the big trout as it settled just above the creek bed in the knee deep riffles. I figured I’ll play him like a steelhead keeping side pressure on him until he decides to waste some more energy. It wasn’t long before he decided enough was enough and he gave in first by forcing the issue of the next battle round. I kept my cool and patience and didn’t get into an abusive, forceful battle. After a short bout he tired enough I got him close to the bank to land. I know I drained a lot out of energy out of the lunker so I kept him in the water a short bit before the picture, which the guy on the bank offered, that I wasn’t even thinking about asking. There was a quick opportunity and I felt I was keeping the fish well oxygenated and lively in my grip in the water. Once the guy told me he was ready for the photo I picked up the trout and got a couple of pictures before putting the trout back into the water. I let it catch its breath and once I felt a good tail swat, I let him swim free.

That was it. I hooked the bugger into the rod hook keeper and called it a day.

 Back at the van, while changing clothes, I sipped on some wine and ate cheese, crackers and ring bologna. On the road I lit up one of those fine Sancho Panza stogies and comfortably drove homeward.

 When there’s good weather and opportunity to fish, I try to take full advantage of it!!



  1. What a day! Great fish, and what a way to end a perfect day.

  2. Thanks. It really was my last few casts before leaving. Hard to top that catch so i called it quit.