Work was slow tonight, so I was able to take off and try out my new 7'6" 3wt that replaced my old broken Redington. It had been raining for much of the afternoon, and the canyons looked pretty ominous. As a result, I ended up trying that little stretch of water I had gotten permission to fish. The water was much higher than the last time I was there, and quite a bit dirtier as well. I decided it was still probably fishable, but I cut straight to my favorite run just to see if it was worth my time. It was much harder to cross the river to get into position, and the area likely to hold fish had gotten much smaller and harder to fish. The left side didn't produce anything, and once I waded into it, I could tell that more silt had been deposited there. I really had to stretch to get my fly into the slower water across from me, but I finally got a drift that someone approved of, and I hooked a pretty nice little brown. I could tell right off that the 3wt was much more willowy than the 4wt. Mr. Brown took off downstream and alternated between getting into the heavy current, and trying to wrap my tippet around all the scraggly branches that call this place home. At one point I had to slide under a tree to get downstream, easing the pressure on the fish for a moment. I was afraid I would lose him then, but the hook held and I eventually scooped him up. Kind of a pale specimen due to the chocolate water, but I'll take him.
I wasn't able to entice any more strikes out of that run. The sun had come back out, so I decided to check out another nearby stream, hoping to find it clearer and easier to wade. 20 minutes later I was pleased to find low, clear water. Maybe a bit too low and clear. I started downstream of my car, and on the first run I had four trout swipe at my dry, though only one took it. He was a fairly typical brown. I had high hopes with that much activity right off, but the next few runs brought me nothing. I arrived at a spot where there were two dozen nice fish eating bwos a few weeks ago, but I didn't spot a single fish. The next spot held some fish, but they were being very skittish and selective. The same with the next spot. There was a Jeep parked at the trailhead, and I was beginning to think I was following this guy. I decided that even with a little more than an hour of light left that it would be in my best interest to hike upstream a little way. The first good run I fished, I missed a good cutthroat and caught a couple of small browns. In the riffle ahead of the pool I caught this pretty little guy.
I worked my way upstream and arrived at a deep run with lots of woody cover. I made my cast from behind a log, and my indicator fly went down. I had a pretty tough little customer on the end of my line, and it looked like a bow, which I've never caught any out of this stream before. Unfortunately he dove into some brush while I was trying to climb over the log and popped off. It's definitely harder to turn a fish with the 3wt, though I have to say I really like the way the typical little ten inchers fight on it. I kept working up, but the fish were pretty spooky. I arrived at a spot with a nice run paralleling a fallen tree. As my fly drifted by, it darted under, and I set the hook into something big. I caught a quick glimpse of what seriously looked to be close to 18" of spotted rage before it darted into the tree. I tried to turn it and scoot around the tree to get it out, but it was too late. Darn my flimsy little rod. For a minute I wished I had brought the 4wt instead. I made it up to another favorite run and spotted several nice trout working it. I tried to knee walk into position, but I spooked the best trout. Still, on my first cast, this snaky fellow did a 180 and chomped my nymph.
Unfortunately, they were just so spooky with this clear water that I wasn't able to coax anymore to bite. It was getting dark, and the next stretch was fast and shallow. I found a couple of pockets, and between the low light and fast water, the fish weren't so terrified of my presence. I pulled two off the tail of the run, and got one further up to munch my dry.
I reeled up my slack and was about to call it a night, when I saw a shelf up ahead that always looked like a big fish spot. I made several casts with no love, but as I was about to pick up my last cast, I hooked into one last fish. He took off downstream and I stumbled through the dark after him. He wasn't a monster, but still better than most of what I had encountered thus far.
It was really getting dark now, and I still had a half a mile or so to get back to my car, so I hurried back. All in all not a fantastic evening, but I got to try out my new rod, and at least I wasn't missing the majority of my fish this time. If the weather holds, I just might go back again tomorrow and hike up further as I'll have more time.
Total for trip: 11 browns
Total for year: 159 fish