Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sometimes you have to break all the rules...

As you have probably guessed by the few posts that we have been able to get out lately things have been crazy at our house - we have just been way too busy!  

For the first time in a very long time I headed up into the mountains for a day on the river.  When I'm going out by myself I usual go in search of the bigger fish as opposed to quantity or scenery.  So I headed out to Spinney Mountain Ranch hoping to get into some of the lake run fish that move up into the river in the fall.

Instead of fishing my usual holes I decided to try some new ones closer to the lake.  Even for a Friday the usual parking lots were very full.

Fish 1 and 2:
Once I made it down to the river I was surprised to find a number of rising fish, and big ones at that.  With our house on the market all of my fly tying supplies are put away so I was nervous that I wasn't going to have the right dry flies to throw at the risers.  Looking through my fly boxes I was able to find something that was close to the bugs the fish were feeding on.  Usually "close" means "not good enough" and a lot of frustration as you fish that are feeding on the surface but won't take your fly.  But today, for some reason, the fishing gods were smiling on me.   My first good cast put the fly right in the feeding lane and sure enough, the fish nailed it.

I quickly landed it and was so eager to get my fly back in the water I didn't want to waste the time to get the camera out and take a picture.

I dried the fly off and got it back out on the water quickly, to my disbelief the very next cast I hooked up into another good fish.  Again, I didn't want to take the time to do the photo thing - had to get back fishing!

 Fish number 3:  The risers had subsided from the bend where I got the first two - time to let it rest for a little bit.  Looking up stream there were more fish rising - a couple of decent casts and I finally convinced one to take my fly - Fish on!  This time I had to get a picture - a nice rainbow!  Once I got him on the reel it was a full on battle with the drag singing with each run.
Fish number 4: This one took the dropper - a little red annelid.  It actually moved quite a bit out of its way to take it, I waited for the take and set the hook.  This one sure gave me a good fight but at least I had a little bigger hook on the dropper and was now more concerned about the delicate 6x tippet that the fly was tied to and all of the weeds on the bottom of the river that a wily fish might use to get free.  Fortunately the tippet held and got a chance to take his photo!   This fish was somewhere in the vicinity of 20"

All this time the fish were rising on PMDs and Tricos - both super tiny.  The trick was to drop a fly right in the fish's feeding lane and hope it decides to take your fly instead of the real bug drifting down the river next to it. Once in a while you convince a fish yours is the real deal and it takes the fly.  If you are lucky you hook the fish but often with these tiny flies you either jerk it out of their mouth, or in the fish shakes it out during the fight because the hook is just sooo tiny.  ( I had several of such instances on this trip but fortunately I had a pretty good success ratio)  So as I am standing there letting the pool rest waiting for the fish to come back to the surface and start feeding again I see a large grass hopper fall into the river just upstream from where the fish have been feeding.  I stand there in eager anticipation to see what happens next.  Wham!  The hopper is GONE!  I quickly scramble to re-rig my line cutting off the microscopic flies and substituting in the huge hopper.

One of the lessons you learn early on in fly fishing is that if you want to catch fish you need to have a solid presentation of the fly where the fly moves down the river as though its not connected to any thing, it simply flows down the river at exactly the same speed everything around it.  Sounds easy enough but fly anglers spend their entire lives perfecting this technique.  If you do this right you catch fish, if you can't figure it out, you don't.

So here I am trying to perfectly float my big grasshopper down the river expecting at any second I'll get something to nail it.  After several good casts and good drifts right through the feeding lane... nothing.

Then I watch one of those bugs that walks on water go scooting along the surface across the current and right over where the fish have been feeding and it is instantly gobbled up.  AH HA!  Thinking back, that hopper I saw was kicking periodically as it was floating down the river....

With new excitement I deliver my hopper just upstream of the feeding fish and as its drifting down the stream I break the cardinal rule of fly fishing and give him a little twitch, then another, then a third one... wham!  Fish on, and its a PIG!  A beautiful Cutthroat!

After a couple of pictures I send him on his way

Fish numbers 5 and 6: I just had to try this trick again!  Same fly, same spot, three twitches, and I hook into another fish, this one the biggest fish of the day.  This time - the weirdest thing happened - while I was fighting the fish I watched it spit the hook only to have its buddy that was swimming along with it grab the dropper fly - I ended up landing the smaller fish on the dropper -  a little smaller but another nice rainbow.  I was too excited again and spared the photo...
 Fish number 7: By now I had caught a good share of the fish out of this hole and the rest of the fish were too spooked to feed.  There was no more surface activity, and no more takers on the hopper.  I decided to switch over to the spaghetti and meat balls rig (an egg fly with a worm fly dropper) and I picked up one last fish in the next pool up the stream!  Another bow approaching 20"!

This was some day!  The smallest fish was around 16-17" and the biggest one may hve topped out around 20".  The best part was that I was basically in non-stop dry fly / sight fishing heaven from 10am until about 2pm.  I did have my share of requisite lost fish which keeps things in perspective.  I would have kept going but the weeds on the river bottom were dieing off for the season and big clumps were drifting down the river - it got worse and worse until at 2pm the river became more or less unfishable - time to head home.

Lessons learned
-Sometimes cardinal rules are really more like guidelines
-Explore new stretches of familiar waters

1 comment:

  1. Nice fish.

    Looks like a lot of fun.

    How do I get in touch with you guys these days.

    Dale Campbell