Monday, May 18, 2015

Finding the groove

After my last day on the ice, I had a few weeks of downtime to wait for the rivers to open and drop.  It was a good opportunity to replenish my steelhead boxes, along with some big meaty brown streamers for the opening day of trout season.

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.

One other fish later on decided he would gator roll his way off my line.  Still, landing one fish brought me plenty of joy - especially high sticking in high and dirty water.  Having brushed the skunk off, I started to prepare for the trout opener the following weekend.

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.

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