Nearly 4 months in the making, today was the big day: my first fishing trip of the season. It's been an especially bitter, gloomy and generally crappy winter. The only time it wasn't absolutely frigid and foggy was when it was snowing. The temperature really struggled to get above freezing the entire months of December and January. Finally, in the second half of February, Old Man Winter's sadistic little claws began to loosen their grip. It was supposed to be up around 50 degrees today, but alas, another inversion was hunkering down, trying to discourage me from going out. Well I waited as long as I could wait to head out, and around 11 a.m. I finally went for it. After a quick stop by Bep's for a friendly chat and a mug of Dew, I was off. I headed south, Doug Burr gently serenading me as I munched pretzels and sucked down the nectar that is oh so dear to me. Surprisingly there was far less snow in the canyon than there was in my own yard. Still, there was enough of it to make finding an ample pull off difficult. I ascended ever higher. I caught up to a big expensive pickup that appeared to be doing the exact same thing that I was doing. For once my dinky little car came in handy as I eased into a small bit of shoulder that was free of snow. As I got out of the car, a chilly breeze caught me and I began bundling up. I rigged up my little Redington with a small Turk's and a golden carrot's ear dropper. I remembered this nymph really cleaned up last spring, and I was hoping for a repeat performance. I shuffled down a steep hill to an inviting little run. I flicked out my flies, nowhere near as rusty as I expected, and watched the little Tarantula bobbing downstream. Much to my amazement, it popped under on the very first drift. I set the hook against some surprising weight and my line began to shoot downstream. I eventually guided the brute to my net, a lovely fish pushing 18".
Unfortunately it wasn't a colorful trout, but the lowly whitefish. All kidding aside, it was a lot of fun, and I was glad to hook a larger fish after such a long time. I worked the run for maybe five more minutes, missing another whitey and catching one of maybe 16". I moved upstream and plucked a hand sized brown out of a small pocket. The next pocket brought an even smaller cutthroat followed by a little better brown. 6 hits in 15 minutes. Not bad for my first trip out in the early season I thought. Up ahead was a series of amazing looking runs. I squaddled up to the first one, keeping low so as not to spook it's residents. I flipped my flies out, full of anticipation....and nothing happened. In fact nothing happened for the next 45 minutes. I moved up through several nice runs, sweaty and discouraged, wishing I hadn't worn so much wool, and never saw any fish. I reached some really fast, deep water and decided to get out and move upstream a little way. I got to a really deep slow run and could see some fish feeding. I got one decent sized fish to inspect my offering a couple of times, but he just wouldn't commit. I moved a little further up to some faster water toward the head. Finally, I hooked into a couple of small browns and missed another. I switched to a cased caddis larva for the dropper and scored another. The transition to the next run was difficult due to brush and deep water, and in my struggling, I spooked 3 nice trout out of some very shallow water by the bank. I started fishing this faster shallower water, and to my surprise, a nice brown sucked in my Turk's.
And then my dropper. And then my Turk's again. This was more like summer fishing, not early March. The next run brought a refusal on the dry and a miss on the dropper. I wondered if there were still fish down in there that wanted something different, so I switched back to the golden carrot's ear. First cast, fish on. I worked my way upstream popping fish quite frequently. My Turk's drifted past some brush on an undercut, and a 12" brown darted out and snarfed it down.
The next cast brought the same results. I hooked another big whitefish somewhere in there too.
I looked at my watch and much to my chagrin, it showed 2:20. I had to wrap this up an head to work, but first I had to hit a classic run that lay before me. While no more fish rose to the dry, several slurped down the nymph including a spastic brown who thought he was a rainbow, jumping six times, another big whitefish,
and a pretty decent cutthroat.
As I hurried back to my car, I felt satisfied. Even though I only had two and a half hours to fish, it was the best early season first trip of the year I'd ever had.
Final Tally: 14 browns, 5 whitefish, 2 cutthroat