Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back to trout with a side of rescue

After getting hit with a few weekdays of rain, I was doing my usual scanning of river flows and noticed quite a few of them were dropping slow, so they were off limits for the weekend.  Not a big deal though - I wanted to make my usual stops on some small water anyway.  This particular river always fishes great after rain and high water.  My brother Nate tagged along again, but since the flows were high and the water was a bit tricky to fish with flies, he opted to spin fish.

The water level was high, and clarity could have been better - but we caught a bunch of fish!  Nate outfished me, but I had caught the biggest on the first river.  A nice, healthy wild brown!  We were both having a blast, and Nate was getting hits almost nonstop!  After moving upriver, he hooked into something with a lot of weight which got us all excited...until it popped off!

I was downriver from him, swinging nymphs and getting a ton of hits from rainbow parr.  It was great to see so many wild fish in this river.  Definitely one of my favorite trout rivers even though I've never pulled anything over 20" from it.  We fished until we couldn't get upriver because of posted property, so we went back to the car and hit another river 15 minutes away. 

Another fun river that almost always produces after rain.  The water couldn't have been any better, and Nate started things off with a bang with a nice bow that was probably 15".  I picked up a nice bow of my own that was all over this swung hares ear. 

I like to call these brookies, "hand hangers"  Ones that hang off both sides of your hand...a decent sized brookie!

Nate was once again hooked into something big and heavy.  Judging by the way his rod was bent, it appeared to be a big brown which was not uncommon for this river.  We were both psyched to see how big it was - that is until it got off.  Heartbreak!!  Nate kept fishing the same spot in hopes of another chance, but we both knew the truth, he wasn't going to even sniff anything with a sore lip. 

Less than 5 minutes had passed and I decided to put on something big and ugly.  If there was another big brown hanging around, then surely this big hunk of meat would get it's attention!

I threw in at the top of the pool and let the fly get deep enough before stripping it back.  Right as I went to pull it out of the water, a big football-looking rainbow came up with hit my fly like it owed him money.  I was shocked, and ended up pulling the fly right out of his mouth.  After a few choice words, the pool went dead.  We didn't get a single hit until moving upstream.  Losing one big fish from a pool is one thing...but two???? 

We got to the next pool which was one of the deeper ones on this section of river.  I could see shapes moving around in the shallows - what were they?  I had Nate cast to them and we found out shortly that they were suckers.  Still, we kept on fishing in hopes for a second chance at a big fish.

I remember I kept hearing something that sounded like kids screaming off in the distance.  I didn't think anything of it because we were in a close proximity to a few houses.  It wasn't until about 30 minutes later that I had realized what it actually was.  I was making my way upstream and noticed something was in the middle of the fast water in the river.  At first, I thought it was a dog fetching a stick, and going back to shore.  It wasn't until I got closer that I realized it was a fawn that was trying to cross the river.  I stood there for a moment, hoping it's mother would come help guide it out, but I saw nothing.  All of a sudden, it stood up on its feet and tried to go forward again, but got swept away in the rapids.  It started to tumble downriver towards me.

I remember throwing my rod into the woods and rushing upriver towards the drowning fawn.  I remember the sound of it trying to cry for help, but having a mouth full of water.  Luckily, I got to it in time before it had reached the big plunge pool as I am sure this fawn was way too young and exhausted to actually swim to shore.  Having no other choice, I picked it up out of the water and held it in my arms.  It was violently shaking and crying, but I could feel it didn't have much energy left in it.  I let go of it to assess how much energy it had, but it had only made it a few steps before almost falling over before I caught it.  I wrapped my arms around the deer and Nate began to find the number for a Warden to help this poor fawn.

After about 15 minutes of phone calls, Nate finally got ahold of a warden who promptly said that the State isn't allowed to rehabilitate fawns, and there is nothing he could do.  We were dumbfounded, and called a local vet who said the same thing.  We told her what we were seeing with the fawn, and that it most likely fell down the steep riverbank into the water while traveling with its mother.  She assured us that the mother is probably keeping watch on the fawn from a distance because of the people around.  We went to the edge of the woods in the same area that I had saved the fawn and placed it in some tall bushes.  It stood up and stared at me for a little while before limping off into thicker brush and then laying down.  It wasn't until then that I noticed I had some blood on my waders.  It had an injured leg, but it was still able to use it with a limp.  The vet said it was most likely a cut from the sharp rocks when it fell, and I hoped it was just a cut as well.

It eventually calmed down in my arms and I could feel its heartbeat returning to normal....poor thing!

I felt horrible having to leave this poor thing in the woods, and it just ruined the rest of the days mood.  Nate and I didn't even want to fish anymore because we felt so bad for the fawn.  The vet assured us that the fawn would cry out for its mother who would not leave the area for days until finding her fawn which made us feel a little better.  We left the area shaking our heads, hoping the mother would find it soon and nurse it back to good health. 

It was difficult to get a good nights sleep to say the least....

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