Monday, July 14, 2014

On a Mission: Part 2

Had the bass been biting more on the previous day, I might have rallied the energy to get back out there for more at the crack of dawn. Instead, I decided to get some needed sleep and catch up on the yard work that was about a week overdue. I figured if I got on a stream by 2:00 I'd still get in a pretty full day if I fished until dark. So, after some work around the house and a quick lunch, I was on my way to the East Branch. I thought of revisiting Stream X, but I also wanted to cover more ground during this 48 hour binge. And this is the time of year when fishing options start to fade… only a few streams can really handle the summer heat. The EB is one of the most consistently cool ones around and I figured I'd have it all to myself on a Monday afternoon.

As I arrived, the only other guy there was just pulling out. Sweet. I rigged up two rods this time- a 5 weight for indicator nymphing and my 3 weight for dry flies. I'm still on the fence about a two rod attack. It's a bit of a limitation toting them both- you can't just wade as you please and absently worrying about leaving one stashed on the bank is a bit of a distraction. However, the ease of switching up tactics makes it well worth it. Many times I've spotted a rising fish and been able to cast to it with the other rod right away. I started this afternoon nymphing and worked down through the familiar runs to a spot that I realize I've only grown to love because it just looks nice. Sure, I've caught fish there. And one of them was huge. But mostly I get skunked there, just admiring the view and the scent of the pines that seem concentrated in that one area. I did connect with a trout there this time, but it got unbuttoned pretty quickly. I decided to move on to another favorite spot that actually holds fish. Or at least ones I'm capable of catching. This spot is a very non-descript section of water, but it consistently holds trout that will almost always take a dry fly year round. And no, that's not it in the above photo. I didn't see anything rising when I got there- but a couple blind casts with a trusty elk hair caddis and dropper rig provoked a take that I missed. I started making longer casts to the opposite bank and immediately connected with a fish that revealed its power right away. I gave it a second little tug to set the hook (a new habit that seems to be paying off) and gingerly fought a thick brown all the way to the net. I scooped him up with a sigh of relief. Admittedly, I haven't caught a ton of trout this year- but being over sixteen inches this was definitely the biggest of the season so far. So where's the photo? Well, there's a story. I wanted to keep it healthy and alive, so I left the fish inside my net in the shallows as I fumbled for my iPhone… turns out this fish could swim quite well in about  two inches of water. Of course. But then I got a second chance… somehow it got hooked on the dropper fly. I got it unhooked right away. And then it slipped from my hands into the water. I was cursing until I looked down and saw it calmly finning at my feet, the way large fish sometimes do after being released. A third chance. I tried to gently corral it into my net with my arm, but it swam away in a flash. Of course, again. All this bumbling just for a damn photo. I had just caught and landed a beautiful brown trout, on a dry fly even, yet it almost seemed like it didn't "count" because I had missed a chance to document it. Remind me again why I fish…

Pictures or not, it was another excellent afternoon and I had to decide whether to stay or go as it started getting dark. Unable to let go of somewhat of a fantasy, I left and returned to the West Branch. I still had high hopes for some evening dry fly fishing. Unfortunately, the conditions had degraded even further in twenty four hours. The water is officially warm. I did catch some fish- sunnies and a tiny smallmouth. Clearly, warm water residents have moved in now and the trout are in search of cooler water. I hope they find it. As it began to get dark, heavy clouds starting rolling in and thunder boomed over the hills. Time to move on.