I was both a little concerned and excited at my prospects of running into what left it, but on closer inspection I realized it was just two prints from a large dog overlapping.
In the short time it took to get geared up, two different vehicles came into the parking area, but I was relieved to see them both turn around and leave. I decided to give a neglected 6' 3wt some attention today. I was planning on hiking in a ways before fishing, but I noticed a really nice deep run full of feeding trout right by the parking area. I eased into some riffles below the run and caught this pretty little brown on my first cast. While I was in the riffles, I turned over some rocks to see what sort of forage was available. I was quite impressed by the hordes of small mayfly larva, great big free living caddis and drake nymphs clambering about the rock.
I worked up to the run I had been admiring earlier. I knee walked into position and promptly scored this lovely cutthroat on a dark hare's ear nymph.
I have to say I'm really pleased with how well this little rod handles and how light it is. I had another fish flash on my nymph but it didn't hook up. I scooched a bit further up, placing a cast against some tree roots. I saw a nice sized cutt flash and felt a solid throb as I set the hook. I bent the whippy little rod for a bit until I was able to land him.
I was feeling pretty good about the day, and then it happened. The curse returned. I set the hook on the next fish, felt his weight, saw him flash, and then my flies launched into the tree behind me. The same thing happened on the next fish, and the next. I was going through flies rather quickly and was feeling frustrated. I wondered if the shorter rod didn't have enough leverage to hook the fish well, and I was having a hard time high sticking with it. I decided to switch out my rods and try the 8' 3/4wt. When I was putting it together, I noticed the blank was splitting. I guess I'll be sending it back to Redington to be replaced. I can't complain though, I've had it for 13 years and caught thousands of fish on it.
I eased back into position and was amazed at how much heavier this rod felt in my hand. Well, I guess it wasn't the short rod as I launched a couple more flies into the tree before finally landing a nice little brown. I wasn't able to coax any more fish into biting, so I felt it was time to hike in.
Since the longer rod hadn't helped me on the hook sets, I switched back to my 3wt and hiked up about a quarter mile or so. I wasn't especially thrilled by all the shotgun shells, dead song birds and beer cans littering the area. Why is it that these kinds of people always drink such crap beer? I guess it's because they're tasteless waste too? I entered the stream below a shallow run and spotted a trout feeding at the tail end. I threw him a drake nymph and he slurped it up. After a brief tussle I netted about a 10" cutthroat. I worked my way up to a deep run where I had seen a large fish last year, but unfortunately the hole gave me nothing. I was feeling frustrated by my inability to high stick as I couldn't get a good drift. I hit a small riffle above the pool and caught a fingerling brown. I decided to hike all the way back and switch rods again so that I could high stick.
15 minutes later I was back where I left off. I arrived at a very deep run with a log jam about midway up. There were 15-18" trout feeding wildly. The first cast brought a strike, but one again I missed him. I quickly had another flash on the nymph, and then hooked into a really nice brown. He went nuts and started peeling off line towards the head of the run, when of course, the hook pulled loose.
Things went on like this the rest of the afternoon. I caught some fish, mostly browns,
but the better fish, especially the cutthroat, would come off almost immediately. They browns weren't huge, but their coloring was gorgeous. This little guy had some very odd markings, I'm not quite sure what his deal was.
I climbed out of the deep gorge I was in and walked back to the car. I hadn't realized just how far I'd hiked. When I came around the bend to where I could see my car, I noticed a nice deep run. I stood and looked at it, debating whether I should donate another fly or two to the trees, and decided to go for it. On my first cast, the indicator fly went down and I did launch the flies into the tree. Luckily I was able to shake them loose. A couple of casts later, it went down again, only this time I hooked something solid. I battled the brown for a short time before netting him, my size 12 hydropsyche larva perched perfectly in the corner of his mouth.
Ending on that nice brown when I had already given up on the day really made things seem a little better. I did noticed that my hooking percentage was a little better when using larger drake nymphs and caddis larva, so I think I may tie more of these larger flies. Hopefully when I get my new rod, it won't be so noodly and I will have a higher hook up rate. As I'm sitting here typing this, my legs are stiff and sore, and my knees bruised from all the squatting and knee walking. Though it's uncomfortable, it's kind of a nice feeling knowing that spring is here and it's just the start of a year of adventures.
Total for the day: 22 browns and cutthroat
Total for year: 80 fish