Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Good times!

My girlfriend and I usually go camping later in the Spring, but we couldn't get a site reserved where we wanted to go, so I threw out that we could go to the Northeast Kingdom to fish and I was surprised when she obliged.

In the days prior to last weekend, the weather was looking pretty crappy.  Heavy rain at times...even thunderstorms!  We opted not to reserve a hotel room in case the rain was just too heavy and the rivers got blown.

The night before, we decided rain or shine, we were going!  We called a few potential Hotels only to find out they were full.  Then I remembered where Chris and I stayed last Fall for salmon I called and we struck gold!  They had ONE room left with a King sized bed, sweet!  It was only about 20 minutes away from where we'd end up fishing last, so it worked out great.

I threw all my necessities together Friday night, 3 rods, 4 reels and 6 fly boxes later...I was covered for any situation.  We were on the road by 5 A.M., making the almost 2-hour drive to the honey hole that very few people know of.  The Spring spawn was over, and the rainbows were all dropping back into the main river (or so I was hoping)  It rained off and on on our way there, and I had my fingers crossed the relatively small river was not too dirty to fish.  Lucky for us, it was unaffected by the rain prior to us arriving!  As we got there, the sun was actually starting to come out and the call for rain diminished swiftly.

We loaded up with gear, and hiked through the woods to the first good hole.  We struck gold, and found willing fish all over.  We snuck up on a pool with quite a few bows putting feedbags on.  Katlyn sat on the bank and watched.  After landing the first fish of the day almost right away, I think she has a better idea of why I love to fly fish so much.

It took a few more takes and missed hooksets to hook up again, but this guy went airborne and the size 16 pt popped out.

In the next few hours, and moving spots...I ended up with 6 or 7 fish on, while managing to land 5.  Nothing huge, but nothing small either!

While fighting one of these fish, a truly massive rainbow came out from some deep water and started to chase the one I had on!  A fish that was honestly well over 6 lbs was coming 10 feet from me, chasing a fish half his size.  After landing the one I had on, I tied on a big tungsten olive muddy buddy.  Hard to throw with an 8' 4 wt, but I got it out there. The first few retrieves had follows, but no hits.  After the 5th or 6th retrieve, the big guy finally came out to give it a whack.  After following it onto some shallow gravel and whacking the fly, I set the hook, and POP.  A bad knot lead to a lost potential monster rainbow....UGH!!!

Before noon, we decided to take a lunch break and made our way back to the car.  As we got to the car, it started to sprinkle.  I wanted Katlyn to feel the tug of a feisty wild rainbow, so I dug the spinning rod out of the trunk.  This river was not an easy one to fly fish.  Overhanging trees and very tough currents made for very difficult drifts.  I wasn't going to burden her with trying to get one on a fly, so we took her a spinning rod. 

We headed to the first pool where there were still feeding fish.  I set up a tiny barbless hook and some weight with a crawler and gave it to her.  It took a long time, but a fish finally decided he'd give in.  She set the hook like a pro after the grab, and the fight was on!!

After quite a long fight, I netted this beauty.  This guy was skinny, but surprisingly long.  I'd guess 23-24".  Beautiful colors as well!

Definitely her biggest rainbow to date, so awesome!!  She did a great job steering this guy away from the rapids downstream from us. 

 After this guy, the few other fish sharing the same pool were definitely spooked, so we headed upstream.  That's when things got tricky.  The woods in this stream are so thick we couldn't just freely move from pool to pool, it had to be done along the bank of the river, sometimes having to go knee-deep to travel upstream.  Having no waders or adequit boots, Katlyn was having a tough time.  I felt bet and didn't want her to take a spill, so after just a few 100 yards, I decided it was best to turn back and call it a day on this river.  I knew there were plenty more fish upstream holding in pools, but having her fall just wouldn't be worth it.

It was, however, good timing.  As we started to leave the woods and get back to the main road it started to rain, HARD!  Luckily we had rain gear on, but we still got a good soaking!  We both had an awesome time though, and were even giggling in the rain. It was definitely one of my favorite fishing days to date.

After we got back to the car and dried out, we still had plenty of time to scope out some other rivers.  I drove us back toward the Hotel and had a spot in mind that was a quick fish where I'd landed some beautiful bows and even a laker last year.

The rain finally settled as we got the spot.  I was hoping the Lake that fed this small river was calm and clear to see if there were any cruising trout along the shoreline.  Just my luck though, it was so windy that there were whitecaps!  We started to fish the big deep plunge pool below the Lake.  The water wasn't crystal clear as usual - instead it had a little tint to it which wasn't bad at all.  I threw streamers and drifted bugs for a little while before noticing something moving near bottom.  Something HUGE!  I drifted everything I had by and near it, but it showed no interest. 

It made its rounds half a dozen times around the pool before disappearing into the deepest part.  After a while, I had to call it quits and admit defeat.  We headed out to the Hotel to unpack, relax and eat!

We woke up late, around 6.  Took us a while to get going, but we were packed and out of the room by 7 to eat breakfast.  After a quick breakfast, we decided to go take a peek at the Barton and Willoughby.  The barton was surprisingly low and clear.  I could see no signs of fish, and it seemed like the Spring run was pretty much over.  Upon leaving, I noticed some fish laying on bottom, side-by-side.  I knew right away they were white suckers.  Typical behavior from them.  I had a nymph rig already setup and dredged bottom in front of them before hooking up into a small one.  For some reason, I saw no big ones in the area, just smaller 15-16" ones.  Must be the big ones spawned and left.  I caught a couple of them and we headed out to the Willoughby to see if the mass of suckers were still in the lower section.  I wanted Katlyn to see just how thick they were in there in the Spring.  Must be we were just a tad too late!  The river was empty, and the suckers were gone.

On to the next one!  Our last stop was the Clyde, which after talking to my buddy Kenny who fishes it regularly had told me about how he had an awesome few days with the Spring salmon run that were feeding heavily on the Hendrickson hatch mid-day.

The river was high, but clarity wasn't too bad.  Def higher flow than I'd like to fish, but I found some good holding water.  I noticed right away they must have just stocked it with smolts, because they were everywhere.

Kenny recommended a white streamer with a hares ear dropper, so that's what I started with.  Dead-drift to swing is my usual atlantic tactic to start with.  5 minutes into fishing, I started to swung the white bugger and hares ear I had on when my indicator stopped dead in it's tracks.  I set the hook and felt a tug - wow fish on already?  I was pleasantly surprised, but it was short-lived!  After about 5 seconds, the salmon surfaces, shook and popped off.  Def a big fish!  I was stunned...I was hoping that would set the tone for the day!

I fished for another hour before deciding it was lunch time.  Katlyn and I hit a local Subway for an hour and returned to the river.  We trekked upstream, trying to find some decent water that was fishable during the high water.  It was hot and humid, and I wasn't feeling it.  We headed back down to the first pool that I'd lost a fish earlier.

I went downstream about 10 yards and watched a little smolt rising right next to a deep bank.  After about 10 seconds, a bigger salmon, 3-4 lbs pushed him out of the way and made his way upriver.  I was hoping I didn't spook him but it was too late, he'd saw me and took off.  I fished the run hard, and even witnessed the life cycle of the Hendricksons during it, but couldn't get another hit.  We decided it was time to head home and relax.  I was O.K. with not landing a fish after such a great day prior.  I had my shot at a nice salmon, but couldn't seal the deal.

Overall, the trip was a huge success, and I'll never forget it.  I had a great time, and hope we can make it a yearly trip!

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