Wednesday, August 4, 2010

River Report: Outfished By My Partner

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I don't like to admit it, but the last three times I've been to the lake I've gone fishless. I only reported on one of those trips, the one with the amazing sunset. The other two were great evenings, conditions were good, but the fish were uncooperative.
The last time there were fish working, but they seemed highly spooky, unusual for this time of year. I saw a Caddis dry swirl as a fish came up and rejected it, and once I had just a little exploratory peck on a nymph under an indicator. I haven't had any luck with trolling, early or late, with big or small, light or dark flies.
And even the Stimulator isn't getting any interest.
I could be wrong, but there should be Caddis popping--not there--and the mayflies have been a disappointment this season.
So I went to the river instead.
There were clouds building in the haze and thunder rumbling in the distance when I got there, so I went right to work. I waded in on this side of the bridge and began my usual routine of exploring the bridge run. I hooked a nice trout right by the abutment. I got him away from a snag but he was able to get into some small branches hung up in the snag and wrapped the tippet around them. He was still on when I waded over, but as soon as I put tension on the tippet he was off.
I waded back over to my usual position and soon discovered that the spring runoff had done some remodeling. I was suddenly in a hole that hadn't been there before, up to my lower wader pockets, and the current was running fast and strong there as it narrowed under the bridge. It took some careful work, but I got out of it.
Now what? I worked the run as far as I could with as long a line as I could cast, and then climbed the bank and crossed over to the other side. In the past I've been able to wade through a waist deep trough along the bank and climb up onto a shallower bar to get access to the lower portion of the run. Now that spot is significantly more than waist deep. I got in up to my wader pockets again and was still going down. So I gave up and slithered out.
By then it was starting to blow and rain was spattering on the river, so I walked back to the truck to make sure I had rolled up the windows. I had; sometimes I outsmart myself.
On the way back an Osprey--I saw four or five during the evening--rose up off the river and flew over about twenty feet above me. He had a beautiful trout in his talons, still flopping, making his flight erratic. That fish was at least as long as the Osprey's body.
It was raining pretty good by then, and the lightning was flashing and the thunder thumping, so I took a seat under the bridge.
That worked for awhile until the wind shifted from my right to my left and the full weight of the storm hit. I started to get wet.
I crawled back right under the bridge where I'd sleep if I was a bum and watched the wind and rain lash the river, and listened to the thunder of the big rigs passing just overhead combine with the thunder of the storm.
It was nice.
The storm passed and I climbed down out of my retreat. Thunder from over the ridge now still rattled the world as I worked my way downstream. The old gravel bar is still there, but it looks like the holes behind it aren't. Then I went back and mucked my way along the bank farther under the bridge and found a place I could wade out to get access to the run. The trough was still over my waist, but it was passable.
I stayed there awhile and tried several different flies.
I decided to head upstream and see what else had changed. I didn't try to cross the river, wading upstream in the shallows along the outside of the big bend. I finally saw fish, somewhat the worse for wear.
Sockeye? That's my guess.
Suddenly it was evening. I stayed on the outside of the bend and got some good swings in over what used to be a series of potholes where I caught a Steelhead last winter. Don't know if the potholes are still there.
With the dusk came hatches, thick hatches of multiple insects. It was good to see; it proves there hasn't been a global catastrophe, and that there might still be insects other than midges in the lake.
These micro mays were crawling all over me for awhile.
Then as it got darker the Caddis went nuts. Thick, manic clouds of them. I tried a few photos but the light was low and they were moving fast, so nothing came out. They swarmed me, crawling everywhere.
On the wade back to the truck I tied on a Caddis and skittered and floated it all along that stretch of water. I found some tiny fish rising, but they were too small to get the fly in their mouths.
But it looked so good, and felt so right. On the edge of darkness when I could barely see the fly anymore there should have been a big cruising trout cleaning up on Caddis
But there wasn't.
So once again I was outfished by the Osprey. That's OK. I'll take him as a fishing partner any day.

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