Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Curse is Lifted 3/15/12

I decided that I wanted a break from losing my flies in overgrown, brushy streams, so I thought it might be time to head up to The Logan.  I realized I hadn't been there in about a year and a half because of all the high water last year.

It really felt like a Moon and Antarctica kind of a day.  I figured if I was going to a place I hadn't fished in a long time, I might as well listen to an album I hadn't enjoyed for a while.  As I drove through the marshes and river bottoms on my way to Logan, I spotted pheasant, Canada geese, and the first pair of sandhill cranes of the season.  I thought those were some pretty good omens.  Logan tried to take the positive feelings away by placing an endless barrage of large, lumbering vehicles in front of me, but I finally left them behind just before entering the canyon.

As I drove up the winding path of my old friend, Logan Canyon, I was thinking about sasquatch as I had just watched the season finale of "Finding Bigfoot" which took place in our very own valley.  I was suspiciously eyeing a dark shape in the bushes, only to find it was one of those brown, wooden signs that are so common in the canyon.  Luckily I looked back to my left just in time to spy a cow moose standing in the middle of the river.  I contemplated stopping to snap a few pics, but it was a curvy section of road with few pull offs, so i carried on.  Besides, I got up close and personal with a moose on The Blacksmith last year.

A short while later, I arrived at my destination, a stretch of pocket that is usually swarming with stocky cutthroat.  I rigged up and then hiked a few hundred yards downstream until I found a path through the willows.  As I entered the river, I noticed a really nice looking pool behind a large boulder just downstream that was just too inviting to pass up.  I normally don't work my way downstream, but I figured I would give it a try.  First I checked under some rocks and saw hordes of small, dark mayfly nymphs.  I tied on a dark, flashback Hare's Ear Prince with red ribbing, then crept into position and made my move.  My fly drifted through the run, but just as I was starting to life my fly up for another cast, I saw a nice fish flash at it.  I lowered the rod tip, allowing the flies to drift back down when a feisty brown absolutely clobbered my dropper.  I set the hook, and after a nice battle, I was able to net the speckled beauty.

I was really impressed with the colors on this fish.  I moved up to a really nice stretch of runs, and was able to nab another brown from the tail of the first run on the dropper.

So far so good.  Two strikes, and two fish in hand.  This area really opened up, so I felt it would be a good idea to ditch the shorter leader that I had been using on the little creeks, and go with a nine footer.  I worked my way upstream, high sticking like a champ with my new leader, but I got no takers.  I worked up through another beautiful run, but nothing.  I was beginning to feel discouraged, when I made a drift down a tiny seam on the far bank, sticking my first cutt of the day.

I worked up through some lesser looking water and caught some average ten inch browns here and there, but nothing spectacular.  Still, it was nice to have landed every fish that struck.  I even got one to come up and suck in my dry.  Eventually I arrived at some amazing looking water.  I had just switched to a size 14 rubber legged orange Copper John to see if that what entice more fish.  The first drift a nice cutthroat flashed on it, but I missed him.  I worked the run a little longer with nothing.  I went back to my little dark pattern, and quickly caught a brown up against a boulder.

A couple of casts later, I pulled out a cutthroat.

I worked my way a little further into the pool so that I could high stick an especially nice bit of water along the bank.  I missed a brown at the front of the rock where I caught the other one.  Just up from there, I finally hooked what I came for.

I worked the run some more and got the same results.

After I exhausted the hole, I spotted a small pocket of calm water between the swift water just upstream.  I spotted a large whitefish working this spot, and thought, "Why not?"  I have no pride.  First drift he snarfed down my nymph.  The ensuing battle was a grueling scramble over rocks as the fish bulldogged downstream.  I finally got him into the slack water where I had been landing my cutthroat, and scooped him up.

He stretched from the tip of my finger to the crook of my elbow, a full 20".  Sure it would have been cool if that had been a trout, but it was still a fun time.  For me anyway.  I placed a couple more casts into the pocket, and soon hooked into the wildest, most insane whitefish I have ever met.  Whoever said these things don't fight has never met this nasty customer.  Immediately after the hook set, he leaped out of the water and then peeled off across the run faster than most trout I have caught.  He zipped back and forth across the run at breakneck speeds.  Finally I got him right in front of me and scooped him up, but he sprang forward right out of the net and cleared it by a good foot.  Back across the pool in a flash, I pulled him back, only to have him make another mad dash for freedom, which he obtained.  My hook popped out, and that was the last I ever saw of Senor Spazz.  However, I met his wily brother about a minute later.  This one didn't jump, but still achieved some insane levels of speed.  He didn't fly out of my net either.

I always thought that whitefish looked a little like little river bonefish, and these ones had the attitude to go with their looks.  Just to the right of this pocket, up against the bank, was some quiet water with some overhanging brush.  The second drift through another nice cutthroat came up and sucked in my dry fly.  He knew the routine and took me downstream to the landing site.

I worked my way upstream, but didn't find any really spectacular runs for a while.  A couple of promising looking spots didn't really yield much for me.  I tried switching nymphs to a #16 rubber legged ice dub pheasant tail Prince, and was rewarded with a 10" brown on the first cast.  I didn't realize that I was being watched until a moment later when I missed a nice cutt and cursed him as my fly launched into some branches.  That's when the mink that had been observing me took off up the bank.  My fly came out of the tree easily and I moved one.  I saw a really nice cutthroat in a little slack pocket, but he just glanced at my fly with little interest.  I realized I was nearly out of time, so I hurried upstream to a run that always seems to have some good cutthroat feeding in it.  Just below the run was some riffles where I missed a fish and caught a small one.  I moved up to my honey hole, and just as expected, the fish were right where I left them, slurping BWO nymphs.  On my first cast, a really nice sized cutt made a b-line for my nymph and slurped it up.  I set the hook, my rod bent in half, and he was off.  I was a bit fearful that my curse was returning.  I made a few more drifts, and got some lookers, but no takers.  One solid fish suspended under my fly for a good ten seconds before wigging out and bolting away in a splashy froth.  I switched back to the dark Hare's Ear.  I made a few more drifts with nothing.  At the tail of the run, I lifted up for another cast, only to find another good fish on the end of my line.  I followed downstream and quickly scooped him up.

I had about five minutes left to fish, and looking at my clicker, I realized that I was at 99 fish for the year.  I saw a promising slot of slow water just upstream, so I hit it.  I soon had number 100 on the end of my line, and it was back to brownville.

There was a really nice run just upstream, but I had to force myself to hurry back to the car so I could get to work on time.

Overall it was a really great few hours, and it reminded me of why I like The Logan so much.  I will definitely be back sooner than a year and a half this time.  I think it's funny that people told me that the fish wouldn't survive last year's runoff and that it would need to be restocked.  Fish are resourceful.  They managed and are looking healthier than ever.

That trip was a little bittersweet as it was the last my old Redington Red.Start will ever take with me.  That rod has been all over Utah, Idaho and Wyoming with me.  I used it to catch four kinds of cutthroat, browns, brookies, tiger trout, rainbows, cuttbows, lakers, whitefish, largemouth, smallmouth, carp, chubs, shiners, bluegill, green sunfish, crappie, perch, and probably some other species I'm forgetting.  We had a really great 13 years together, but I shipped my friend back to Redington today as the time had come.  The split in the blank had become two splits, and was growing longer each day I used it.  Farewell my favorite creek rod.  Lets hope your replacement treats me as well.

Total for trip:  20 cutthroat, browns and whitefish

Total for year:  100 fish

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