Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Early Morning at the West Branch

This is usually the time of year that I start feeling a little panicky. Almost all of the streams are about to close and it won't be long until cold weather sets in and the fishing slows to a crawl. For me anyway. The fall season never seems to work out that well, but I'm hoping to turn that around this year. It may not be fall, officially, but I think it's off to a good start. I had an early morning session on the West Branch on Sunday that may have been the best day of fishing I've had all year. The weather was absolutely perfect- cloudy, low pressure and almost windless. Just plain fishy. I got on the water just as the sun was coming up, my absolute favorite time to fish. And even better, I was the only person there. Without any surface activity in sight, I kicked things off with a double nymph rig and strike indicator. When the indicator took a sudden dive on my third drift I knew it was going to be a good morning. After landing four or five browns, all around 12 inches or so, I moved upstream and set up shop at the coveted tailout of the riffles near the top of the stream. I figured it wouldn't be long before someone else showed up and planted their flag there. The water was surprisingly cold, 58 degrees on the stream bottom. It was also very cloudy, but that didn't seem to slow the fishing at all. They were hungry and not exactly selective. After two trout clamped onto my strike indicator, I switched to the elk hair caddis and a tiny emerger dropper rig that I ended up sticking with for the next several hours. Both flies caught fish, though the size 22 nymph got the most attention. I never did catch one of the monster browns that this stream can produce, but a steady pick of brown trout is not something I get to experience that often and I'm not about to complain about it. Though, at one point I did start to wonder if I was catching some of the same fish repeatedly. I also wondered if I'd stop myself if I actually confirmed that.

I probably could have stayed put and caught fish for a while in that run, but after an hour or so I felt the usual compulsion to move on and see what else was happening. By now, a few people had walked through and I felt like I was getting close to hogging the place. I caught a few more as I fished a few likely looking spots on my way downstream. I saw a brown jump about a foot out of the water a couple times. I didn't catch him, but I barely tried really. By now I was feeling like a spoiled child, lazy and full of cake. I walked down to "frustration pool", which was fully occupied by three anglers. I fished a little further downstream at a spot I hadn't tried before, a nice little stretch between two shallow runs. A familiar looking brown took my dry fly after a couple casts and I decided that was a good way to end the day. And maybe even my season at the West Branch. There's still a week before it closes and I'm already feeling the pull to go back there before it does. But I might not. A day like this doesn't come along too often and it's a pretty good way to close down a stream for the season.