Monday, July 14, 2014

Small Stream/Trout Lake Report: Mountains and the Moon

You decide to go back up the mountain for some Redband fishing. There's a wide stretch of creek right by the campground that makes you think about wading.

But instead you start up the trail.

There's elk sign here and there. You keep your eyes and ears open.

Upstream a ways the trail brings you back down to the creek. You have everything you need to fish except a rod. So you take out your Buck knife and make yourself a sweet little small stream rod.

You tie a length of 5X tippet on the rod and knot on a little elk hair caddis. You're ready.

You float the caddis over the first deep hole.

Your brand new rig works just fine.

You work your way upstream.

There's a beautiful pool at the base of a log jam. You come around the jam and pick your way out to where you can sit behind the big log.

The whole pool opens up to you.

You can see fish riding the currents in the deep. The caddis sweeps over them and they dart up to intercept it. You draw them up into the sunlight for a moment, then send them back into the shadowy depths.

You start downstream.

You go past your starting point and find the deepest pool yet. You climb down, stand on a deadfall and hang onto a tree with one hand so you can reach out with the other and let the fly drift into the shadows five feet down from the rock. A piece of shadow breaks off, rises, and takes the fly confidently. It's a big fish, maybe ten inches. You're hoisting it up when it hits a branch, twists, and comes off.

You go back again, and catch the small version.

You climb up to the campground and the truck. You take the fly, but you leave your new rod leaning against a picnic table. Someone else may get some use out of it. When you come back you'll make another. You're thinking the next one might be a foot longer and a bit more limber. It's fun to be a rod designer.

You start to drive on up the mountain. You have another destination in mind. You've never been there, so the trip is an exploration of new country.

It takes longer than you thought, but it's a beautiful drive.

You finally come to the high meadows you were looking for. The place is named Long Swamp, and it's known for its chain of beaver ponds. You have high expectations, but you find the water level way down. The stream is at its widest at the culvert under the road, but the water is shallow and warm.

You squish around on the marshy ground looking for fishable water. You don't find any.

You get back in the truck and backtrack slowly. You find where the ponds would be if there were water, but now they're mostly mud flats. You determine to come back earlier next year.

You start the drive back down the mountain, but you stop at a new stream. It's beautiful.

This time you get out your fly rod and cast down and across to an overhanging bank. You're fishing the cinnamon ant that got no hits the last time you were at Trout Lake. These Redbands love it. Fish pop out and take the fly hungrily.

One of them is the fish of the day. 

After awhile you come to the end of that stretch of creek, so you load up and continue your drive down to the valley. You don't feel that the day should be over yet. There will be a full moon tonight, and you want to be somewhere on or near a body of water when it rises. You weigh your options all the way down.

You aren't surprised to find yourself at Trout Lake. It's mostly on the way home. You settle into the float tube and fish. But the lake is still quiet. Instead of fighting it, you let the peace and stillness enter you.

You still fish, but it's OK if you don't catch anything. You're waiting for the moon.

Darkness falls and the stars come out. Bats flit. A satellite crosses silently overhead, then another. Then you notice that the rock face to the west is glowing. The light of the full moon is beginning its descent to the lake.

Finally the moon reaches the top of the eastern ridge...

...and spills its light over all the world...

...and you. Now you're ready to bring this extraordinary day to a close.

1 comment:

  1. Well you outdid yourself Jim. I'm in awe of stream and surroundings as well as the trout.
    Your method of fishing "almost like Tenkara" improvised was beautiful.