The river ran clear, cold, and low on Friday.
I worked the Bridge Run and found some fish right away. I had a strong hunch what I was dealing with by the way they pecked at the swung fly. Rainbows and Smallmouths take the fly and hook themselves. You usually have to work a little and set the hook yourself when you're dealing with Whitefish.
I was taught as a kid in Idaho to consider Whitefish--and Squawfish, and Chiselmouths--as "trash fish," and we routinely tossed them up on the bank when we caught one. I never stopped to think that I was raised by Trout Snobs, but there you go. I suppose that has a lot to do with why I have zero interest in "Golden Bones" today.
And what is a Chiselmouth? Here's a pic:
These days I actually like Whitefish, or at least like catching them. And I released this one. Whitefish like this one, and the couple of others I hooked and lost, require some finesse to get on the end of the line, and they give a good account of themselves. I've found pods of them feeding on top, and they'll readily take a dry, providing lots of fun, and--the way I, a Trout Snob, look at it--good practice for the real fish.
Like the one I hooked next. Way at the end of the run I finally had a solid take. The fish came straight up and cartwheeled high above the water. When it hit with a big splash it was gone. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a Steelhead, but it would have been the best Rainbow I've ever caught out of this river.
I loved that. And, as they say, better to have loved and lost....
I rested the run for awhile and let the sun go down behind the ridge before wading in and giving it another go.
But the fish were gone, or my finesse was--or my luck. But that second time through always feels good. You feel acclimated to the water and the wading by then, and you stumble less and cast more efficiently. You feel like a fisherman, and, if it has to be, that's reward enough.
It was almost 8:00 when I got home, and I had been on the river for five hours. Now that--finally!--is fishing.