Sunday, April 28, 2013

Channeling Sylvester Nemes

As will eventually happen around here, spring arrives.  And it did...just yesterday.   Sensing that 72 degrees and sunshine in April means the best hatch (in my opinion) of the year on the local trout stream, I made arrangements to get up and get after it.  Fish that like caddis flies also like swung soft hackles, a tip taught to me originally by none other than Shox McSteel, back in the days before children and mortgages.  It was also reinforced by a brilliant though highly underrated angler named Sylvester Nemes who wrote the book on this fly and the techniques used to fish it.
The swung fly has become the hip thing to do in some steelhead circles these days but I will take this opportunity to suggest that it is also a very, very deadly approach to spring creek brown trout fishing.  If you ever tire of bobbers and lead and there isn't enough surface activity to warrant the Halfordian approach...tie on a brace of size 16 soft hackles and swing through.  You may be surprised.

The cardinals sang and the midges flew, the sun rose and the morning clouds burned off as I took 2/3 swings per step through all the choice water and even some marginal water.  The browns were awake and looking up and they plucked away at my Hungarian partridge wrapped iron.   A few came up short, but more than my share stuck.  Nothing big, nothing worthy of a real grip and grin, but the catching was hot and the fish continued to peel off their feeding lanes to have a taste.

After fishing my favorite caddis riffle (without ever seeing even a single caddis...or caring) I noticed a fish rising on the outside of a deep slow bend.  Telltale ripples exposed his position every 10-20 seconds as it tilted up for a midge struggling to dry itself before flight.  Leaning my 4 wt. against a box elder tree, I got down in the dirt and dry grass and slithered to the edge of the bank for a closer look.  Less than ten feet away I could make out the spots of a healthy brown trout, high in the water column, having breakfast...or brunch perhaps.  Making myself as comfortable as possible as the blood rushed downhill into my head I watched and snapped pictures for the better part of an hour.  The sun was completely wrong and the light reflection was brutal, but I had front row seats and enjoyed the show until the fish spooked and disappeared...sunlight glinting off the lens perhaps?

I checked my watch and saw that mid-day was fast approaching so I made for my vehicle in order to make my an appointment with my daughter and her soccer team.   I made it to the appointment and even had enough extra time to stop at a local coffee house to bring my wife a small token of my appreciation for mornings like these.  I should confess that as I headed for the vehicle I couldn't help but stop at my favorite caddis riffle and work through it one last time just to cement my satiation.  The fish were still eager and a few larger ones came out to interrupt the easy rhythms of my soft hackle swinging through...Just like Sylvester Nemes suggested they might. 

The day about to unfold.

That's gotta suck.

Soft hackle brunch

Average brown for the morning

A quick pic before release

Add caption

Midge on the menu


...and turn


...and turn...

...and turn.


...and turn

Almost Vertical

The finest background music

Monday, April 8, 2013

Blankety Blank

It's not supposed to be about the numbers...but sometimes you can't help it.
So, here they are...
700 - miles driven, 10.5 - hours fished, 36 - degree high for the day,  37 (ish) - water temp, 0 - Number of fresh steelhead in the river (ice was still covering the mouth of the river),  4,594 - number of potential steelhead still in the river after last fall's run,  140 - flow in cubic feet per second at the beginning of the fishing day,  150 - flow in cubic feet per second at the end of the fishing day, 2 - visibility in feet at the beginning of the day,  1 - visibility in feet at the end of the fishing day, 76 - degrees inside of the tent (IC for those of you who know), -20 - degree rating of my down sleeping bag, 0 - number of seconds I was cold that night,  12 - number of flies donated to the river gods, 0 - number of minutes spent for lunch, 1 - number of brown trout fouled, 11 - length in inches of that trout, 1 - number of steelhead landed by McSteel, 26 - number of photos I took of that fish, 39 - number of times I thought "WTF?",  0 - total steelhead landed by yours truly, 0 - total steelhead that gave me any indication that they were in fact in the river, 72 - percent chance that nymphing would have resulted in hooking a fish, 0 - percent chance that I would have nymphed even if I had that rod and box along.  100 - percent chance that I would do the same thing again and expect different results,  100 - percent chance I am an idiot.

McSteel making T-shirt weather

Newly installed Tinkle lights (No, not Twinkle...)

1 of 1

1 of 1

1 of 1
McSteel launching (see the patriot missile in the lower right?)
Working it.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lunch Break

With the winter reluctantly giving up it's death-grip on my throat, 54 degrees Fahrenheit seemed like a scorcher and incited a mutiny at the home office today.  I opted to take a stroll in lieu of lunch today.   I grabbed my 4wt and my camera before closing the door.  The little creek by the house has never given up her fish easily and I felt like a little recon might be in order.  The sun was high and the water sparkled with the siren song emerald green that makes the last months of shoveling snow and chipping ice a distant memory (and hope springs eternal once again).  The trout in this particular creek are the wariest I've ever seen.  Seldom big, they require stealth that I seem to be incapable of.  The great thing about this tiny trickle is that when the sun is high and the water clear, you can count the fish you've spooked.   I consider a "one fish day" on this creek a banner outing so today's 2 fish count was good karma.  At one point I crawled on my belly across the dried field grass and pointed the polarizing filtered lens into a pool to grab some "trout shots".  Why these fish didn't flee is beyond me.  A 4wt line false casted over them from 60' away would have sent them on a mad dash, but apparently they aren't threatened by a jackass on his belly.  This particular creek flows into a a larger stream whose junction I've never taken the time to investigate.  I hoofed the creek downstream to the meeting point and was happy to see some browns in the main stem as well.  Obviously, I need to do some more fact finding.  Sandhill cranes croaked overhead and the remains of a raccoon decomposed on the bank.  I had worked up a little sweat on this completely satisfying noontime trek and decided that perhaps foregoing the sandwich at home was a wise choice.