Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hendrickson buffet

Finally, the rain stopped and the sun came out during the work week.  I watched the LC trib levels closely.  It was the beginning of the end of the steelhead run for Champlain.  The smallies would soon enter the rivers, and the steelies would drop back into the Lake.

I had some free time after work to check the water clarity for the weekend, so I packed up the RAV and took off after work.  It was crowded at the usual spots, which I expected.  The water level and clarity was picture-perfect.  I knew fish would not be in the usual spots, so I began walking.  I ended up on a section of river that gets mostly ignored due to shallow and swift water.  I saw a few Hendricksons on the river when I pulled in to park,  but they had tapered off by the time I was geared up and trekking into the woods.  I started off throwing eggs through the swift pools without even a bump. I switched over and swung some big streamers in hopes of an aggressive take.  I had this aching feeling that I was drifting and swinging by fish, so I decided to go with a nondescript Hendrickson nymph.   High-sticking to a swing is the way to go during the Hendrickson hatch, which is what my plan was.

Before I could even start the slow swing, my line went tight.  No, not bottom....unless the bottom was moving?

What happened next was pure mayhem.  After tying on a Hendrickson, I had 3 fish in my net in 3 drifts.  What?!

Well, that was a pleasant surprise!  I decided to book it downstream to a few more runs before it got dark out.  I went as far down as I could without running out of light before getting back to the car.  I couldn't believe what had unfolded...I landed 6 steelies and hooked into 11.  I had a few steelies actually chasing my flies in shallow water during the swing.  I was loving it!!!

I was catching fish in water that people wouldn't even considering fishing, it was just amazing.  If only I had more time!

After landing and fumbling the 6th fish back into the water, it was pretty dark out.  I was still still on the other side of the river, and needed to cross.  I made my way up to some safer looking water.  I happened to look just upstream of me and saw a nice little pocket in front of a big boulder.  I tossed above it and drifted through it.  On the swing out of the water, I could see a big shape follow and swipe at it as I pulled it out of the water.  He ran himself into a foot of water, and I could hear his tail trashing in the shallows, "tsh tsh tsh tsh" as he swam back into his pool.  It was a hog!  I collected myself and waited a few minutes.  I knew he had to cool down before I could try to trick him again.  I threw in the same spot, expecting him to smash the nymph. After a dozen drifts, I was left scratching my head.  I didn't have time or even the daylight to switch flies, so it was back to the car I went. 

I don't think I've ever had such hot steelhead action in such a short time-frame.  Thank you, Mr. Hendrickson. 

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