One of the things I love about trout fishing is how sometimes it’s better to be persistent than good.
Your author’s last hurrah for the 2012 inland trout season found him with Beastmaster and the Dark One on home water. The stream was low, cold, and spooky clear. We started out on a stretch offering some of the most technical dry fly water I’ve ever fished – I don’t think it’s overstating the case or taking anything away from other fisheries to liken Son of a Bitch Pool to a scale model of the spring creek reaches of the Henry’s Fork: temperature tempered by both a dam and plentiful spring infusions, complex currents, a profusion of insect life, and a population of wild fish that have the double whammy of lots of angling pressure and not needing to eat everything they see.
This proved to be a bit ambitious for a punter who hadn’t fished anything lighter than 6 lb. Maxima in a couple months.
After a record hot summer, the spring water and lack of Capilene made it feel like steelheading, but with needing to thread tippet through the eye of a #22 hook. The lack of practice, the cold and a couple press pots of coffee combined to make just rigging up mid-stream a pretty ugly process.
A fish rises on the far side of a rock berm upstream, in the middle of about three meandering currents. First cast, ant in tree, lost. Rerig, backcast in tree, ant lost. Rerig again. Third cast, miss the take, don’t get a second look. Begin to fight mechanics, overpowering presentation, tailing loops a-plenty, bird nest the tippet a couple times, get sloppy. Not even the fingerlings are interested. Futilely flog other risers for a while and move on.
Downstream, Brilliant Corner always has fish, and they are almost never cooperative. Today didn’t disappoint. Mid morning now and small BWOs and obnoxiously tiny midges are coming off. Risers rise from the chute to the tailout and on both sides of the current seam through the gut, with the bloopiest, bubbliest big fish rises in the stagnant eddy up from the feeder creek on the far bank. The Dark One is off on a hike, so Beastmaster and I work this pod for a long, long time. The proverbial box is thrown at them. We stick a couple but can’t hang on.
A great blue heron glides in low over the water, passing a rod’s length from Beastmaster, and takes up station directly across from me, over her skinny shanks in the deep eddy. She ignores us and starts stalking the pod.
Punters be getting desperate, trout be inside their heads now. Mechanics are breaking down, fundamentals ignored. Fish hooked are lost, I become my own worst enemy, my own hyper-selective trout.
Your author sees a renegade tied on a #17 TMC 103Y and decides what the heck. Cut back the leader to accommodate the day’s karate-chop casting style. Casting cack-handed up into the chute, then moving up into the riffle and fishing blind with the conquering attractor. Beastmaster and I traded places and I targeted specific sipping bastards in the tailout with the conquering attractor. Friends, I missed a shameful amount of grabs and still farmed some fish but I did bring a few to the net. The fly started disintegrating but they still ate it. The Dark One came down and fished the gut of the pool between us, getting them on snowshoe emergers like a pro. Beastmaster goes renegade and hooks up too. The heron had to move on.
Lunch on the grass, PB&J and Odells, reminisces of trips past as waders dried in the late September sun and big talk for trips future. See you next year, stream trouts – spawn hard. Just nice be out.