Friday, July 25, 2014

95 Degrees: The Fishing was Hot Too!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently… It's been a very busy summer! We've had relatives visiting, we went to Seattle for the 4th and I just returned from Ohio where my family celebrated my Mom's 93rd BD!

Yesterday was the first chance I've had to fish in quite a few weeks. I decided to fish a stream that I thought would finally be in shape. Three weeks ago, I drove past this river and the water was still high and off-color.

But yesterday, it was in perfect shape. The stream was not too high, but temperature certainly was. It was 95 degrees and very windy. I thought I might pass out and be pickled in my waders before I could hike across the large alfalfa field that bordered the stream. But eventually, light-headed and bathed in sweat, I made it to the river's edge.

During the following few hours, I fished both a foam hopper and a black beetle. At times, I droppered a nymph a couple feet off the back. If I had to make a precise cast to a eddy or a soft seam where the nymph might find the tall grass that reached out over the bank, I fished these terrestrials solo. Initially when I did this, I left the dropper's tippet trailing so I could just tie on the nymph if needed without re-rigging. The fish didn't seem to mind, but eventually I clipped off the dropper tippet and stuck with the terrestrials.

I had a pretty spectacular day! I caught five fish in three hours. I know that may not seem red hot, but four of the fish were over 20 inches. I caught one beautiful 17 inch rainbow on the nymph, the others were all browns all caught on the terrestrials. Each of the browns presented a different experience and each was memorable. All were seen either via a tail breaking the surface or just the slightest hint of nervous water.

I spent a lot of time staring at the river, but it was not easy to see on this day. The wind scuffed the water's surface and beat rhythmically at the grasses. Dust swirled off the newly cut alfalfa fields. If that wan't enough, the sun's hot glare hit the riffles and bounced back to me in thousands of mind numbing facets.

But I was determined to find a big fish today so I held off the impulse to cast. I held steady hiding in shade if I could find it… just watching. I've found if you want to catch the pigs, you must find out where they are first. If you wade peppering the water with blind casts, the big boys are soon gone. All that remains are the smaller, less experienced fish. 

So allow me to go through my day fish by fish. Remember, it's very hot, the strong hot wind is making it tough to cast accurately and I'm sneaking around trying to spot a big fish…

FISH #1:

I saw this 21" brown's tail barely break the water's surface. He was ensconced far under the widely waving grasses that overhung a deeply cut bank. When I saw the big tail's tip, I clipped off my nymph and took a deep breath. In the wind, I knew this would be a tough cast. In order to reach the fish, my only chance was to make a sidearm curve cast upstream. A sidearm cast would deliver the fly under the grass without getting hung up… a curve cast would arch my line. I could then reach his lie in the soft water next to the bank without me having to move out into the stream where the fish could see me. It had to go right, but my first cast was short. I hadn't overpowered the cast enough to curve the line sufficiently.

I took another deep breath while I let the fly drift back to me. I needed to be more bold on my second attempt or I wouldn't reach the brown's protected lie. I concentrated and made a good cast. The fly arced to the left and shot underneath the grass. The big black beetle bobbed along a few inches until the brown engulfed the fly. A couple jumps confirmed her size. I reefed hard knowing my 3X would hold and soon I was taking photographs and admiring the beauty of this July brown.

This first fish was a thick, very healthy brown

After I caught this big brown, I reattached my blue prince nymph to the trailing tippet. I wanted to probe the run before I left. I thought any large fish would be long gone after all the commotion I thought something might be hugging the bottom that I could dredge up from the depths. It was the last time I was to tie on a nymph for the rest of the day. After a couple drifts in the riffle you see in the photo above, I was rewarded with this beautiful rainbow for FISH #2! 

Next, Fish #3...

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