Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fall Browns Redux

Following your intuition.

As I descended down the steps and across the bridge at Cress Creek the bugs were everywhere both midges and small BWOs. They danced upon the surface and there were some rising twinks taking the insects off of the top. I thought at the time that it was a good portent. If this had been a July day every riffle would have had five dozen fish rising enthusiastically in the choppy water, but as it is the weird season, that intermediate time between the end of the brown spawn yet early enough in the winter season that the fish aren't yet holding in the deep water, my life wasn't so easy.

Sometimes I think when I am out fishing I should follow my gut more rather than my head. After last weeks brown trip I decided that for this weeks outing, though it was good but not great, I was going to try to find a better spot, where the fish were stacked deep. And so following my head instead of my gut I spent three futile hours on a mile of river between the Cress Creek parking lot and the Railroad Bridge above Ririe. I pounded riffles, deep holes, slow froggy water, everything, looking for a pod of brown trout. I hiked, waded, bushwacked, climbed, and searched riffle and hole.

I have decided that when I am out solo fishing (my two companions for the trip today bailed at the last moment) and not catching anything, I can wax rather philosophic. It probably has something to do with a lot of free time and no one to converse with. I was remembering the halcyon days of last year where my fall Brown Trout outings were rewarding me me with 30 fish in under an hour and in the melancholy half light of a winter afternoon as I cast here and there pondering the meaning of life and where the fish were hiding, the fickle fishing gods decided to play a nice trick on me.

As I was turned directions in the riffle I was standing in and spit a roll cast out 180 degrees opposite from where I had been casting, my line would not roll nor neatly unfold. As I hadn't been looking at my indicator nor paying attention to my flies, of course I caught a fish. The deities of fishing took pity on me, but they are capricious and their charity was only a whitefish.

I fished the area till late afternoon and then decided to finally follow my gut. I hiked the mile back up to my car, loaded my gear and headed upstream. 4:20 pm saw me at the bottom of the hole where I had done fairly well last Friday. Considering that it gets dark around 5:00 pm I figure that in 40 minutes spent here, I did well.

A couple of months ago , I remember reading an editorial piece in one of the fly fishing rags about the impossibility of an 100 fish day. Anyone who affirms that this is impossible has never fished the right place at the right time. Like hitting the salmon fly, stone fly and PMD hatch on the SF just right, where hundreds of hungry Cutthroats are smacking just about everything that pass their way, allowing an angler to catch 30 fish easily in an hour, if presenting the right color and size of flies. A 100 fish day, could well have a possibility today, had I followed my gut.

I hit the bottom of the hole and saw a couple of wakes. My cast tight against the bank saw me into trout. At last. In the fading last hour of the evening, fishing by the light of the full moon I redeemed the day. It wasn't a fish every cast, like it was in the hole directly below me in the previous year, but it was better than the previous 3 hours of nothing but 2 whitefish.

When fishing solo and acting as the camera man and fisherman, composition suffers.

I continued to fish well after the sun had gone down, casting in the dimming twilight and by the light of the hazy cloud obscured full moon. Towards the end I was setting the hook by feel. There was a slight tick that I could sense as the big browns would feel the bight of the glow bug. I would set the hook and off they would charge. I finally decided to give up when I could barely discern my indicator upon the water.

New fangled "Flash" photography. Catching fish by moonlight.

They say tonight's full moon is going to be the largest appearing full moon in over 15 years. Too bad I will be traveling, or I would go to the same spot and fish.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fall Browns

I have been out on the SF, then the Provo and the SF again since my last post. All in the hopes of finding lots of Brown Trout. The first two trips, while not utter skunks (I caught a couple each trip) were slow. As one of my goals for blogging is to take better pictures I am now carrying the camera more often, but I suffer from a malady. When I am into the fish I don't like to stop and take pictures. That and I keep proving to myself just how bad I am at framing up a photo.

Yesterday on the SF was pretty good. The first fish I caught I would have sworn was a brown. I saw flashes of a deep copper belly a few times before I brought him to hand, only to find the deep orange red slashes of a cutthroat. Deceptive fish. The colors on the fish (both the Cutts and the Browns) right now are amazing, but my only picture from the trip failed to capture the deep purple that was around the gill plates of the fish.

Glo Bug and Glue Bug, combo of the day.

After hunting around a bit (my favorite hole for this time of year was a no go as the water about 300 cfs lower this year than it was this time last year, or the bottom has moved, or both) I finally found a nice deep slow hole with lots of fish hiding in it (I had chased them out of skinny water and here they settled). I am learning that nothing is constant on the SF. After high water your favorite spot may be completely re-arranged as the water relocates the river bottom. The South Channel boat ramp at Twin Bridge is completely dewatered, and my early winter honeyhole from last year has less than 1/2 the water down it. The area for me that seems to experience the least change from year to year is right above Fall Creek, but even this area changes.

My catch ratio of trout to whitefish was about 3:1. The Browns weren't as big as I had hoped, but there were a couple in the 18 inch range and a few that fought quite hard. I need to find a new primo water for the next two weeks before the fish respond to the colder water temps and hunker down at the bottom of the deep slow holes.

I am considering making a trip to chase steelhead the 20th-21st of December, but as I have never chased steelheads before I am unsure if that is too late, and where to go. I finally have all the components of an 8 wt setup, and the water levels on the Salmon above Salmon are low. Guess I need to do some research.

My Christmas tree excursion this year was very successful, and some perusing of some other local's blogs has convinced me that I need to hike, snowshoe and ski more with my little ones so expect to see more family related content here. It will be outdoorsy but not necessarily only fishing related. That or I need to start a new blog for my other adventures. Hmmmmm.....