I stood in shin deep water. My legs were uncomfortably cold up to my knees as if I just stepped out of a pool of ice. I had my fleece pull-over zipped up over my neck to fight of the brisk breeze. I had been fishing for hours under the hazy sky and chilly morning. The afternoon never appeared to warm up any. The sun hardly gave any warmth when it did shine upon me and those who took advantage of the good water conditions and near 50 degree estimated weather report by the local news team.
I stood just out from the upstream point of a small grassy and stone covered island. Behind me the shallow water flowed harmlessly against the bank and under small overhanging branches. In front and down from me is a good narrow run with enough depth that a trout or two could be holding waiting for some kind of food to drift by. The water conditions are a bit clear but not clear enough to see trout laying on the creek bed. With the rippling surface current the trout might not be able to distinguish me upstream from them.
My go to streamer, when I’m wading down a creek searching for trout, is an olive Woolly Bugger. I can cover a lot more territory at a quicker pace than a nymph fishermen. Also, many times I’ll pick up a trout or two in shallow pocket waters that a nymph fishermen would be hard to nymph without constant snags. During the spring months I find that some kind of white streamer, most of the time, attracts trout more than my olive ones. I remover the Olive bugger and attach the White Death Zonker to the Fas-Snap and add weight to the leader to get the streamer down in the water column.
I discovered the White Death Zonker in a steelhead article. It’s a simple pattern with a rabbit Zonker strip. The rear of the strip is knotted down with orange thread at the bend leaving a tail of the rabbit strip. The rest of the rabbit is laid over a body of Mylar tubing and tied down under a black thread head. You can weight the hook shank with lead wire before installing the Mylar tubing over the shank. Dead drifting, under a sucker spawn or egg pattern, is suppose to imitate a helpless bait fish drifting with the undercurrent. Though I can’t admit I ever caught a steelhead with one I was hopeful a trout might be curious enough to grab it.
I cast towards the far side into the calm shallows and let the Zonker swing beneath the rippling surface. After the swing I begin to slowly strip the Zonker towards me with stop and go motion beneath the faster wavy current directly down from me. Somewhere beneath I feel a bump through the line. This raised my suspicion that there might be a trout lurking beneath though it could have been my streamer bumping a rock or such.
My next cast was the same as before with the same amount of line out. This time after the swing I brought the rod towards the island and slowly stripped the Zonker in the seam between the island and the faster wavy current. The line tightened and the 4 weight fast action rod arced to the butt section. I held the cork grip tight and though I felt the force of the take may have been enough to set the hook I gave a slight jolt back on the line to be sure. The trout scooted to the far bank and I had to let tension line slip between my pinched fingers not wanting to put too much stress on the 4x tippet. He tugged and swam about in the oncoming current as I kept the rod horizontal to the surface water and letting him use up energy. I pulled the rod up creek, after a bit, and he followed reluctantly with halfheartedly pulls and head shakes. Once upstream from me I had my net ready and backed him into it. He semi-folded in the net and angrily flipped and flopped inside, well, like a fish out of water. I followed the tippet with my fingers and found the White Death hooked into its lower jaw. With a quick down and upward twist the hook popped out. He darted off through the opening when I dipped the net in the water.
I checked the White Death Zonker for any damage or distortions. All looked fine and the thread wraps held up nicely.
I took line out of the reel and started casting in the same manner as before. With each cast I let a little more line out to swing and drift down creek further. I was bringing the Zonker back towards me through the middle of the channel. The undercurrent and waves weren’t as forceful as near the island. I felt a sharp straight tug and my reaction was quick and instinctively. I pulled back on the fly line and rod and again the rod arced to the butt section. I knew I had another large trout on the other end. This one was more frisky and more energetic. He pulled, darted and changed directions more erratically. When it tried to surface I brought the rod towards the water not wanting him to surface into the forceful oncoming current. I had the rod in a big arc pointing towards him and slowly reeled in line when he gave me the opportunity. With the butt section in my gut and the way the 4 weight was arcing, if anyone was watching might have thought I had a whale at the other end. What made it look so extreme was that I was fighting the large fish in a fast undercurrent. I finally got the fish upstream and pulled my net out from behind me. He shot across the creek upstream a little more and I left go of the net, that was hooked to my belt, and quickly took hold of the line that was peeling off the reel. With a bit more tension on the line he turned and came towards me as I lifted the rod. With one finger gingerly pinching the fly line I started to reel in line till the fish settled down a bit that I was able to pick up the net without fear of another escape attempt. I scooped up the large rainbow and felt pretty good netting this frisky trout through the strong current and into the net safely.
After getting the hook unstuck from his upper jaw I released him unharmed.
Well that definitely deserved another cigar. I reached into my inside vest pocket and took out a maduro fuma churchill and lit it up.
I fished the channel a bit longer but didn’t get any other strikes so I continued on down creek. I hooked up and missed a couple more trout on a small stonefly nymph and olive hares ear in a deeper stretch with a few other fishermen nymph fishing from the opposite bank. After a couple of the guys left one last fisherman and I talked as we both stuck around trying catch more trout. It was getting late in the day by now and I was getting a bit hungry. Besides that I was feeling a bit more colder throughout my body and decided to call it a day.
Back at the truck I packed up. I ate a granola bar and rinsed my mouth out before lighting up an Alec Bradley Prensado for the ride home.