After monitoring the water levels of a few Champlain tribs, I decided it was worth it to take a quick trip after work to one of them. The water was high, and off-color. The temps were nearly below freezing and a light drizzle turned into a whiteout by the time I was back in the car - I loved it. I knew fish would be out of the main flow and more towards the banks, so I focused on getting a good drift by high-sticking the slower sides of the confluences. A subtle, "bump" followed by a thrashing fish had proved my point. He dug down for the first minute before turning and running downstream. If he went too far down, he was a lost cause because of the high flows. I put the side pressure on him and pointed his nose to the bank and swooped him up in some shallow water. A nice heavy-bodied steelie!
|Don't let the water clarity fool you in this picture. There was only about 7" of visibility.|
I decided to chase big browns on opening day and was on the road before light. While I rarely see anybody fish this particular river, it always pays to be there first regardless of where you go. I had a box full of big, meaty streamers and a few different sink-tips to go along with them. The flows were high, and very hard to wade, but the clarity wasn't too bad. I stuck to fishing some of the, "safer" water and was bummed that I couldn't get to a few honey holes I knew were holding fish. I managed to cover some water, and it didn't take long for a grab from a hungry, broad shouldered brown. I had the fish right in front of me, (21-23" fish) and right as I pulled my net off my sling to net him, he rolled a few times and swam away - leaving my streamer on the bank. Well........OK....
I smiled it off, knowing I was on the right track. After changing spots via car, I bushwhacked my way into a run and kept at it. Just a few casts later, I thought I was hung on since I hadn't even started to strip my fly in yet. Come to find out, my snag was moving away from me! Wide headshakes and a long run lead to heartache. He ran me right into a snag in the deep pool. I could feel my line wrapping around something right before the gut-wrenching feel of a, "weightless" fly line slinging back at me. Cut me off, that tricky bugger..
I tried hard to get another take for the rest of the day, but couldn't make it happen with what water I could access. I took a mental note of where these fish were hanging, and already had a game plan for the next time I would visit this river! It was only a matter of time.