Put a few hundred miles on the rig this past trip. An exploratory outing to try to find a few more good pieces of water to add to the others cause you can never have too many.
First piece of water turned out to be a lemon. With the low cfs there wasn’t much fishable water. It took less than an hour to swing through all of it. I figured it was time to move on when my magic fly from the last trip and the trip before that got hung up and I ended up having to break it off. Damn it…I loved that fly.
After eyeballing a few more runs and never taking another cast, I decided to move to a completely different area. Things just didn’t feel right. I’ve learned over the years that you have to learn the habits of the river and the fish that swim within it. There are places that are only productive under very particular circumstances and one has to be mindful of things like the weather, snowpack, clarity, discharge, pressure, fish habits, angle of the sun, etc… Things other than what you have tied to the end of the leader matter more. Best fly in the world won’t catch fish if there are no fish around to catch.
Another hour or so behind the wheel found me staring into a sweet piece of water to apply the down and across. For a moment there I thought I had it all to myself. Upon closer examination I made out two figures off in the distance at the head of the run. It looked like they were high sticking indicators.
I watched them as I made my way down to the river’s edge. They never made any attempts to move down the run. It looked like they were working their way up. Sweet! Maybe I’d have the run all to myself. Even after they spotted me they never made a move to work the water down below.
I strongly believe in courtesy and it goes a long way when fishing with others. So I politely asked if they minded me dropping below them. They said they didn’t so I did.
With the rod tucked under my arm I looked over the piece of water as I dug into my pack for my fly box. The run had a very distinct feature at the head which I won’t disclose for reasons you’ll know in a minute. Scattered throughout I could make out a spot or two that I figured could hide a fish or two or three or four.
Working from near to far I worked the head around trying my best to fish the fly around those fishy looking spots. Not more than 5 casts into things the line snapped tight against my finger and pulled the loop out from under it and I ended up slapping the running line against my hand during the hook set. Ouch!!! Short while into it the hooked pulled free. Only thing I saw was a big roll and a big tail before the line went limp.
Hell yeah!!! THAT SHIT WAS AWESOME!!!
I didn’t notice until sometime later when my heart rate and the breathing mellowed out that my hand hurt like a sum-a-ma-bitch. Back of the hand just below the pinky a nice little welt running the full width of my hand was there as a sharp reminder of what just went down.
So I backed up to the starting line and began working it again. It didn’t happen until a little bit after the first and a little further downstream. Nothing super violent like the last take, just a steady hanging up of the fly on something. I waited for some movement before letting the loop slide through my fingers. It took a lot of control on my part to have confidence that when the line came tight and I pulled back the fish would be there.
I waited…the fish was there.
This one I had on longer than the first. A heavy fish that put a serious bend in the 7wt and peeled some line off the reel. I was able to gain some line only to have the fish take it back and then some. Once again the fish came off after a strong head shake, turn, and a roll. Damn…I’m beginning to hate that roll.
Confidence was high at this point despite the two mishaps. I reeled in some line, checked the fly, and began swimming the fly from right bank to left bank again. I worked the entire run. For the next couple of hours I made several passes with a handful of different flies.
Confidence had dipped a bit but I was still hopeful. Due back home in a few hours I decided to make one last run at it. Another fly change and back to the top. By this time my casting had become progressively better. Working from river left I was able to throw in mostly Snap T, a healthy bit of Perry Poke, and a Cackhanded Double Spey or two. That brought a big grin to my face from ear to ear.
The next fish happened a dozen casts in just a few feet shy of the fly resting just below me. I had waded out to above my knee hoping to slow the fly down in a little seam directly below me. The take was solid with no need to set the hook. I waited for that dreaded roll and it happened but the fish stayed on. I could tell the fish wasn’t very big and was able to land it without too much trouble.
I struggled with taking the picture and it must have shown. Not easy when you are in a foot or two of water and keeping the fish’s best interest in mind. One of the guys hollered and asked if I needed help.
Checking the time I figured I had time to work the rest of the way through. The next tug happened at a strange spot. There was a section three quarters of the way down that started shallow on the far bank and stayed that way for some distance. I never figured that a fish would be resting anywhere in there. It seemed too shallow and too swift. I fired my casts into that water and didn’t bother to throw a big mend in there. I figured it would gain enough depth as the fly swung around. There was a rock making a disturbance on the surface. It wasn’t visible but you could tell it was there.
To my surprise, hiding there, in front of the rock was the fish of the trip. As the fly passed some distance in front of the rock, I felt something chewing on the fly. I let the loop slide through my fingers and waited for the line to come tight to the reel. I didn’t pull back immediately and waited for a steady tug-tug-tug and a bit of line to come off the reel. That’s when I pulled back and felt the weight of the fish.
I was lucky to land the fish. It nearly kicked my ass and when I finally got a hold of the leader and laid my rod on the ice to tail it, the fish broke free and nearly took my rod with it. With the leader in my hand the second time I finally was able to get a firm grip. Once again those kind fellas came over to give me a hand.
That right there made the long drive home that much easier. Felt good to finally get a proper fish on the 7136 Z. Still playing that one back in my head.