Over the last few years, I've had the great opportunity to make quite a few new fishing buddies. My new friend Mike and I met via YouTube through our comments on eachothers videos, and PM's following them. Turns out Mike is less than 10 minutes away, and was just getting into fly fishing. He'd fished the Mad River before with decent luck and asked if I wanted to tag along. I obliged, and before you know it we were on the water together!
It was a cool late-August morning, and the fog was thick! It had an eerie, yet great feel. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere when we got to the water. The first section of river we fished looked beautiful. Miked opted to leave his gear in the jeep to see how I fished. Late summer/early Fall is a great time for swinging and even stripping Iso's, so I opted for swinging a tandem nymph rig, with a big BH prince on top, and a smaller zug below it. The water temp was a surprising sub-61 degrees.
I explained to Mike about how I swung flies and why, and how where you stand makes a difference in your presentation depending on where you cast. I worked my way slowly up the run, and it didn't take long before I got hit mid-swing by a chunky 14" rainbow. Shortly after, yet another one the same size from the same run! After that, a weird sound - someone running upstream. What?!
All of a sudden, a doe galloping alongside the river came running right towards us. It took one look at us and then proceeded to jump right into the tail end of the run I was fishing, like it was no big deal. It swam for a minute or two before getting out of the water on the other side of the river. Well, that was a first for me, and definitely unforgettable!
After the second fish, Mike was eager to get back to the jeep for his gear. I opted to wait by the river for him and soak up the scenery. After a few minutes I moved about 10 feet upstream into the faster section of the run, and lazily made a cast to make time go by quicker. Towards the end of my swing, right before the dangle, my line ripped out between my fingers. I grabbed my line and set the hook, sending the fish into a rage. It took off downstream without skipping a beat and took me into backing right away, holy smokes!
After gaining some line back, it started the aerials, and I got to see this beautiful wild bow. I yelled to Mike but he was too far away at that point. I had missed netting the fish once, and it took off again. I thought it was game over when I bumped him with my net, but thank goodness I got another chance, and this time was perfect. I slid the net under the fish, lifted it out of the water and my fly popped out. All I could think of was WOW! My first time on this river, and within 20 minutes of fishing I'd had this in my net.
I sat in the fast water with the fish in my net underwater until Mike came back a few minutes later. He was just amazed as I, but was bummed he missed the fight. He took some pictures for me and I sent this beauty on its way!
That fish set the tone for the day, and we had high hopes! We hopped in the Jeep and headed a mile or two to the next decent looking section. I gave him some tips on casting and presentation and he picked it up immediately. It wasn't long before Mike was fighting a rainbow from a nice run later on in the day. We worked our way upriver for what seemed like forever, hoping to spot some big fish in skinny water, but couldn't make it happen. We both got hit a few times, and landed a few, but nothing as big as the first.
We hopped in the jeep again to travel a bit further upstream, and started working our way upstream again. We ended up on a fast run leading into a big deep pool that was crystal clear. I waded across the river, climbed up a hill and could see down into the water. There was about 4 bows cruising around, the biggest looked to be about 18". I guided Mike on where to cast for a few of them, but after a few missed hooksets I climbed down the hill to have a crack at the bigger cruising one. It was out of Mikes reach so I took a whack at him. I made a cast upstream of him and let my flies sink. When they were at his depth I started making little strips toward him, and my flies crossed him. I kept stripping little by little and he turned quickly, followed my stripped flies and then grabbed my dropper! I set the hook high and hard, but no dice! I felt weight, but my hook slipped out, bah!!! I blew it, and the fish took off into the depths and I never saw him come out again. We headed upstream again and I ran a prince with a black stone dropper this time and got nailed swinging through some fast water that was fairly shallow, less than 2 ft. It was a nice healthy rainbow in the 16" range!
We fished upriver even further, stopping at what looked to be a swimming area with nobody there. It didn't take long before we spotted some black shapes at the bottom of this deep pool. At first they were stationairy, like they were just sticks. But before long, one of them moved and they were parallel to eachother! They were definitely fish! I was convinced they were trout, simply because we were so high upriver that suckers would have a hard time surviving. Well, turns out I was wrong...it was a half a dozen white suckers!
I couldn't beleive it, but after putting on a big white bunny leech and stripping it slowly in front of one, he grabbed it!!! A 20" white sucker on a big bunny leech, how could I complain??? I still don't even understand how he got the leech in his mouth, but he did! Seems like he was the only willing taker though, the others just hunkered down on bottom. We moved again, working our way upstream. Mike said he had a take from another big rainbow in the next run, but I didn't see the take or the fish. After a long days fishing we decided to call it quits and start heading back to the jeep. It was a great day, and it was even better fishing it with a new friend on some new water.