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.


mike doughty said...

good looking browns. i desperately need to get some fishing in.

BG said...

Cool story man! Gut vs head... I can relate. The past few posts have been great! Keep it up.