After over two weeks of cold, snowy, overcast nastiness, the sun finally peeked it's face out to say "Hi." I'd been getting rather restless, so of course I took the opportunity to head down to my favorite trout stream. As I drove up the canyon, it seriously felt like I'd gone back in time a month. Snow blanketed both sides of the mountain, and once again it was hard to find a spot to pull my car off. I passed some water that I had remembered taking note of last time, so I flipped around and went back for it. The sun felt warm and welcoming as I trudged through the snow, but as I reached the water, it slipped behind the mountain. "Perhaps it's not so warm after all," I thought as my breath unfurled before me in a cloud. Oh well, onward I went. I didn't see any bugs hatching, but I figured the blue wing olives should be getting active, so I tied on a size 18 olive mayfly nymph beneath a small black Turk's. Within a couple of minutes I hooked about a 12" whitefish from a fairly shallow riffle. He flopped free as I tried to grab him, but that was just as well. There was a deep bend pool up ahead that had me a little excited initially, but I soon discovered some rather difficult currents and didn't get a single strike from it. I waded around the bend, and saw a much more enticing bend pool about 100 feet upstream. I worked my fly through the faster riffles at the tail end, but nothing happened. I moved up to the main pool, and I knew it just had to produce. There was a nice chute of fast water coming down the near side, and a wide area of nearly dead water adjacent to it. It looked to be a good two and a half, three feet deep closest to the rapids. Almost immediately I missed a fish on the dropper. On the next cast a little rainbow rocketed up to intercept my dry. I scooped it up in my new rubber mesh landing net (which I'm really digging by the way) and snapped a quick pic before releasing it.
It's a rare treat to catch rainbows on The Blacksmith. They're just not that common. My dry was looking kind of soggy, and I thought I might do well to fish a heavier dropper in this water, so I re-tied. I put on a big ugly size 10 something or other that I'd slapped together with foam, rubber legs, deer hair, and chartreuse craft fur, with a size 16 Flashback Carrot's Ear for my dropper. First cast got me a decent whitefish of maybe 15". The next few casts brought similar results, though sometimes the fish would quickly become unbuttoned. I was admiring the visibility of my new attractor pattern when a lovely cutty devoured it.
I fished the run for a bit longer and then decided to move on. The next little run ran between two clumps of willow trees and looked very fishy indeed. First cast scored me a cute little 10" brown on the dropper. After releasing him, I flicked my fly upstream, just to get it out from below me, and as I lifted up my line for a real cast, found that it had a small trout on the end of it. After releasing it, I moved up to a fast, deep run with slower water on either side of the main channel. I was surprised by the lack of fish in it, and was about to move upstream when a "rock" released itself from the stream bed and had a closer look at my fly. I guess it failed inspection, and the cutthroat slowly sank to the bottom, never to be seen again. I moved up to the head of the run, where the water spread out and slowed, and noticed a decent sized trout gulping something from the surface film. I presented my flies to him, and he immediately approved of my dropper. He shot into the current and headed downstream, but I soon found myself holding a healthy looking brown.
I placed my next cast closer to the fast water, and to my delight, was holding another rainbow shortly after.
I moved ahead through some nice looking runs, but wasn't even seeing any fish. At the very head of a long riffle, right amongst the boulders and the turbulence, I spotted two good sized trout picking nymphs from amongst the rocks. I slowly backed away and dropped my fly down to them, but they would have none of it. Up ahead was some very fast water, so I got out and went around it. I noticed a very deep, slower pocket right in the middle of some serious whitewater. I moved into position, and thought I saw something rather large flash down there. I drifted a few casts through before my indicator fly shot under and I was hooked into something large. It shot down into the rapids, underneath some boulders, and down a small water fall. I scrambled up the bank, my rod held high, over the boulders, through the snow and around some small trees before leading this ugly bugger into some slack water where I could net him.
Why is it that the trout always get off in these situations? Oh well, it was still a fun little tussle. I moved ahead, passing a lot more fast, featureless water, before coming across a very large bend pool. I decided to switch over to an indicator nymphing rig with a size 18 flashback bwo nymph, and a size 18 green Copper John. As I moved up into position, I startled a trout that had been tight to the bank, hiding beneath some brush. It proceeded to shoot up in the run and zip back and forth like a spaz. I tried the far side of the run with not a single strike. As I moved up the run, more trout flew out from the brush, ruining this once tempting water. I was nearly out of time, but I saw a nice run up ahead. I fished it for a while with nothing, but I was pretty sure I saw a whitefish down on the bottom. The nice thing about whitefish is that they usually don't freak out like trout and can often be coaxed into taking your fly if you get it right in front of them. And that's exactly what happened. The hooked fish tore off downstream where I eventually netted him, the flashback bwo in the corner of it's mouth.
I looked at my watch and realized I had to get back to Logan fast. I hurried back to my car and tore off down the canyon, clocking in right at 4 pm on the dot.
Final Tally: 7 Whitefish, 2 Rainbows, 3 browns, and 1 Cutthroat
Year Tally: 101 Fish