Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New small water, big fish!

Katlyn and I booked a camping spot about an hour from home, and of course, I'd checked Google Maps for possible fishing spots before we left.  We already knew where to go for a ton of smaller brookies, but I wanted to check out new water!

We arrived, set everything up, cooked over the campfire, then headed out in the morning to the water.  We drove until we could see some of the water.  We kept driving until we found a decent parking spot.  This time, I'd brought my 3 wt for Katlyn to use, and got her all setup with a big Madame X dry fly.  Not wanting to be redundant, I opted for a small, weighted bugger.

We found out way to the water, and it was just beautiful.  It was pretty small, and barely looked over 20 cfs.  I took a temp and got 58, wow!  Perfect!

I had no idea what to expect until Katlyns Madam X was engulfed by a beautiful, wild 10" brookie.  This was a great sign, and I was pumped!

We found pool after pool, just deep and fast enough to hold a decent sized fish.  Katlyn and I both took turns fishing pools, catching plenty of beautiful brookies, and even a little brown.

As we worked our way up, I had Katlyn fish the pools before me, to give her a chance at some dry fly fun.

While soaking up the beautiful scenery, I happened to look over at Katlyns fly, right as she was about to lift it off the water, a swimming log came to check it out, wait what?

A perfect pool for a large predator

The fish was BIG!  I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Katlyn missed it, and probably thought I was nuts.  I was freaking out over seeing this huge fish chase her dry before she pulled it off the water.  I collected myself and had her wait a few minutes before casting again, but nothing...

My heart sank, I hope he didn't get spooked!  She drifted quite a few times, and we gave it a rest before I decided to give the olive bugger a drift.  I casted at the top of the pool, and followed my bugger as it drifted down, right by the large rock the fish was obviously hiding besides.  After the bugger passed the rock, the big shape came out from besides it, chased down the bugger and swiped at it.  It was a complete miss, but my heart was about to explode.

I was so estatic to see such a big fish in this small water that I'd never even fished before.  All of the brookies seemed to be wild, and after checking the States website, this water did not get any stocked fish, meaning whatever we'd caught would be wild.

After the swipe, I let the pool calm for a while, hoping to get another chance.  After throwing the bugger through all the water and not seeing any signs of movement, I wasn't ready to give up.  I was seeing black and golden stones on the rocks all around me.  I added a black, rubber-legged stone dropper to my bugger and began high sticking the fast water at the top of the pool (Katlyn said she saw it head into the white-water)  Sure enough, a few drifts later, I watched my leader stop dead in place.  I set the hook, and this big guy took off downstream.  Woo!!!!  He was on!  My click & pawl reel was screaming - ahhhh what a beautiful sound.  I was ecstatic, and couldn't believe it.  I finally netted him to discover it a was a beautiful brown.  Not as big as I originally thought, but an awesome sized brown for the size of the water it was in.

Well, within an hour of fishing we'd gotten into a 17" brown...good start!

Katlyn continued to fish dries before I fished below the surface, missing and landing quite a few more brookies. 
Katlyn working a great section of water.  She landed two brookies about 5 feet downstream of this, and another just after this picture was taken.  I pinched the barbs on the dries of course, so we opted to not stress these little gems by taking pictures.
We called it a morning, and were off the water before noon to enjoy the rest of the day camping in the woods.

I was surprised when Katlyn asked when we were going fishing again in the morning.  Naturally, we slept in and woke up to the birds chirping, and the chipmunks fighting.  I checked Google Maps to see where we should park to start where we left off the day prior.  I asked a store owner if we could park in their lot, they obliged and were excited to see we were fly-fishing.  We trekked through a field, and then woods to the river.  We had the same setup, her with a dry, me with a streamer and/or nymph.  We got into more brookies right off.  I opted to fish the harder water first because of either log jams or overhanging trees.  I decided to get in on the dry fly fun, so we switched rods and I got a few nice brookies of my own on dries.  I even missed a few bigger fish that appeared to be 12-14" browns.

We worked our way up, and I was very pleased with the water we were seeing.  It was all great holding water with plenty of cover and undercut banks.  We worked on up and found a run that was a bit hard for her to fish with a dry because of the overhanging trees.  I gave it a shot with a dead-drifted bugger.  I couldn't see my fly, but noticed my leader stopped moving downstream - so I set the hook.  A few head shakes later, and a big brown began flailing around the pool.  WOW, another nice brown!  We were hooting and hollaring!  This guy tried to run me in between two large boulders 3 times, luckily I could stick my rod tip in the water to turn him.  I was running 6X, so I knew if he ran in between the sharp rocks, it was over.  I managed to keep his head pointed away from the sharp rocks, but he started to run downstream.  I put the brakes on just enough so I could get behind him to have him run back up into safer netting water.  After a failed net attempt, he gave me another chance, and I found myself throwing my hands up in the air in excitement.

Another healthy, beautiful & wild brown.....wow!  I couldn't believe it.

Another healthy brown, almost 17"

I released this guy and just sat for a few minutes, soaking it all in.  I was so happy, wow!

We continued upstream, catching the usual brookie  or two every other hole, and we came across an absolutely beautiful log jam.  It appeared to be very deep along the downed tree, so I grabbed Katlyns rod, and added a bead-head PT dropper about 18" from her dry fly.  I showed her where to stand, and pointed to where she should try to get the fly to land .

It was picture-perfect.  She made a cast, the dry fly landed right at the top part of the pool, directly in the "feeding lane" of the pool.  I knew if something was lurking under that log it would see her flies.  That's when it happened.....

This big brown comes flying out from underneath the log jam and grabs her dropper.  At the time, she didn't realize he had grabbed her dropper, so she instinctively set the hook after she thought he went for her fly.  She turned to me in disappointment and excitement at the same time, thinking he missed her dry.

"He's on!  You got him, you got him!!!!"

"Huh?" "Oh my god!"

She started to freak out.  Having only really used a fly rod for less than 10 hours, she had no idea what to do with such a big fish.  I could tell by her left hand holding the fly line she was doing the "death grip".  Something beginners do with big fish without even knowing it.  They'll hold the fly line in one hand so tight that when a fish runs it usually breaks the tippet.  I walked her through what to do, and to let the fly line slip through her hands until all of the slack line was gone and the line leading to the reel was tight.  She did great, and had the fish on the reel in seconds.

I was super nervous....  There were about 4 trees downed underwater, and it was heading right to them.  I told her to put the rod tip right in the water whenever he went towards the log to disorient him, and it worked perfectly.  I managed to slip the net under the fish while it was disoriented from being spun around.

I was so proud, wow!!!  It's not every day you hook into and LAND a big wild brown on a fly the third day fly fishing (a dry-dropper setup at that!)

All 3 browns have a blue spot on the cheek, but this one was very prominent.  So pretty!

She was scared of hurting the fish by doing the grip'n'grin so this was the best shot we got.  It was just a little bigger than the 2 other fish, coming in at 18"  I was unbelievably proud, and she was so stoked!  We had just an amazing fishing experience so far, and it couldn't have gotten any better. 

We fished for a few more hours before calling it.  We continued to catch brookies, but couldn't find any more deep holding water for big browns.  We started the trek back to the car with smiles on our faces, and rightfully so. 

The last day of our camping trip, we decided to fish a little on our way back home.  We fished the same water, but a few miles lower.  The temp was 63 at about 10 A.M. which wasn't too bad at all.

Since it was a short trip, we didn't fish more than 3/4 of a mile, but I noticed how much wider and flatter the river was in this area.  I wasn't really impressed with the water, but we did find a few holes that held fish.  There was quite a few section that had no shade, and it was a sunny day.  We noticed a lot of minnow life though.  There were thousands of creek chubs swimming around in the warmer, shallower water.  After a dozen or so fish and/or takes, we decided to call it and head home to unpack.

All in all, it was an incredible fishing trip, and I'll never forget it.  Watching Katlyn cast a dry-dropper setup perfectly on a run, and then watching this nearly 18" brown come out from underneath the log jam and grab her fly...just...wow!

Needless to say, I will be back to explore more of this river before trout season closes.  

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