Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Bowhunting Trip 4/16/12

I really wanted to get back to my new favorite rainbow stream, but I knew that runoff would be here soon and I was running out of time.  I found someone to cover my shift at work and was able to head up on Monday.

I met my friend at the parking lot at a little after 8.  The weather was calm and sunny and the water had a bit of color.  We hiked up to our favorite stretch and began to fish at a deep, slow run.  I tried a rainbow scud where a shelf dropped into it, but came up with nothing.  I broke out the 6wt and lobbed an olive cone head crystal bugger to the point where the current dissipated and dead drifted it down the run.  As I started my retrieve there was a sizable fish on the end of the line.  After a brief tussle it pulled loose.  I continued fishing the bugger through the same water with a couple of taps before hooking a nice bow on the drift.  After a short battle, I finally brought her to the net.

We got no more love, so we moved upstream to a small run that usually produces.  My friend caught a small cutthroat on a spinner, and I eventually caught a chubby little jumper on the scud.

Oddly enough, the fish actually swallowed the fly, something I have never seen before.  I could see the bead sticking out of it's gullet, but that was it.  I cut the line and wished it the best.  We continued up through a small braid where the river splits.  This was more like fishing a creek, something I'm more experienced with, though the experience didn't pay off.  My friend caught a nice one on a worm, and I eventually hooked a decent fish on a rainbow scud, but it dove beneath a rock and pulled free.  We worked up the whole braid with no more action.  Things were definitely slower this time.  Last time there were clouds of midges and a decent number of bwos coming off with a few caddis in the mix.  Not today.  I had seen a loan bwo or midge, but that was it.  We fished a usually choice run with not a hit.  We worked up to a large run that is our honey hole.  At the tail, we spotted a large, dead, stonefly nymph floating by.  I had no idea they lived in this river.  I took note of that for later.  We worked up to a nice run that plunges into some slow water.  Still not much going on.  I decided to switch to a rubber legged brown stone nymph and immediately got results.

I fished the run some more, but had no more action.  I hit the tail end of another smaller run as it came into the larger run, and immediately a nice bow savaged the stone.  Unfortunately his spasticity coupled with the hook set snapped the tippet.  I hadn't checked my line after the last couple of run ins with rocks, so I was kicking myself for that.  I tried another stone, but immediately lost it to a rock.  About the time we reached this stretch, clouds had moved in and so had some bwos.  Finally.  I put on my favorite little nymph in a pheasant tail ice dub color scheme and immediately hooked up.  I could tell it was a nice one right away.  This was definitely the best fish so far, and we battled for several minutes before it shot down into the calmer water.  It was a slow fight.  No searing runs, but a lot of give and take.  I would reel the fish up to netting distance, and it would slowly pull off another 10-15' of line.  Eventually it tired and I was able to guide it to my net.

A beautiful specimen that I taped at 19".  Definitely spawned out, but some nice colors still.  I caught another  fish in the low teens from the run before relinquishing the run to my partner.  I headed down the run to where a spring entered the river.  There was a pod of fish rolling on the surface there.  I missed one on the nymph and then they shut down.  I decided to try something illogical and throw the bugger to where the water drops off.  I was stripping it in, and at the last minute, this feisty buck hammered it.  He put up a nice fight.  He was nice and dark, with a kype that was beyond his age.

I tried the nymph again on the far side of the fast water, and immediately hooked a fish that ripped me onto my reel almost immediately.  Oddly enough, this tackle crusher was on the small side, it was just insane.

There was another deep run upstream a little ways, so we decided to give it a shot.  The river split here again and we fished some serious pocket water on the way up.  I actually did quite well here catching several fish in the mid teens.  It was tough landing them with so much fast water around, but somehow  I didn't loose any.

This little jerk took me on quite the ride.

He got my line wrapped around a rock and then plunged down a fall into the next run.  Somehow I clambered over the boulders and made it down there to land him.

We eventually got to the run, I took the left, my friend took the right.  I started with some slower water at the tail.  I quickly caught another teen bow.  A short while later, I hooked something massive.  My rod was doubled, but I thought I saw a dark brown shape down there in the murk before it took my line out across the river.  My rod was a U for the next 10 minutes as my hand began to cramp.  About half way through the fight I finally got a good look at my adversary.  It was indeed a smelly old scum rooter, a carp.  I was quite surprised that my little size 16 light wire hook and my 4x held as I finally netted the monster.

I rested my arm for a moment and retied.  I quickly hooked a foot longer, then a mid-teener who wouldn't stop shaking his head like a dog. He eventually pulled loose and I had to retie because he had worn my line raw.  My friend had come over to my side when I caught the carp and we were getting in each other's way.  I caught another typical fish before moving to some pocket water upstream to open the area up.  I caught some more teeners here.

My friend was lamenting the fact that he hadn't gotten a fish out of this stretch where he always can catch something on a worm.  He went back downstream to the other run to see if it was more productive.  I made my way to the middle of the river and was standing on a rock when I hooked a large fish that immediately ripped off a bunch of line.  I looked frantically for a route to safer water where I could land this thing.  Over the boulders and through waste deep water, I eventually made my way to the far bank and eventually landed this 19" bow.

I tried working that side but couldn't get a good drift.  I missed a good fish from a riffle above the run and caught another foot long from the main pool as I made my way back across.  I couldn't entice any more fish, so I decided to see how my friend was doing.  As I walked downstream, he saw me coming and gestured for me to come down quickly.  When I arrived I could see that he had found redemption in this 23" hen.  Even though it was spawned out, it was definitely a monster of a fish, and his best for this river.

He also told me that he had caught the fish that had broken my off earlier.  Unfortunately while trying to document this fluke with a photo, the fish flipped back into the river with my fly still in it's mouth.  Darn it.  I could see fish were still rolling at the spring, so I went back down there.  I quickly hooked a nice fish on the nymph.  It was very deflated from spawning, so the fight wasn't what it would have been otherwise, but the colors and spots were amazing on this 20" specimen.

I moved back to where I had caught the 19 incher and broken the other off and quickly hooked another dark buck.

The weather was getting nastier, and it was also getting late in the day.  I decided to spend my time fishing streamers back down at the spring.  I had switched to a black and purple crystal bugger, and was beginning to wonder if it was a bad choice, when something thumped it hard.  My line immediately peeled off across the pool before the behemoth emerged from the murky depths, shaking it's head violently and sadly throwing my hook.  This thing looked as big as my friends fish from earlier.  I was pretty bummed, and was even more so when I lost the fly to a rock.  I was even more frustrated when I lost a blood crystal bugger a few minutes later.  I tried an olive articulated sculpin and eventually snapped it off on a rock too.  I switched areas and put on a crayfish orange sculpin, and eventually one thumped it and stayed hooked.  It wasn't a monster, but a good quality fish.

After that it was time to hurry down to the cars and get home.  We made a few brief stops along the way.  I missed one small fish on an olive Zonker, but that was it.

It was definitely a slower day, I fished all day and landed 24.  Still the quality of the average fish was quite nice.  I think I caught 2 or 3 around a foot, and the rest were larger.  I'm not sure why it was so slow.  My guesses would have to be the lack of hatches, fish redistributing after the spawn and also not being as active as they recover.  Still, it was a good day, and 20" is the best trout of the year for me that I've landed.

Total for trip:  23 rainbows and hybrids, and 1 mirror carp

Total for year: 224 fish

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