Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday 2-23 on a High Country River Section

Epilogue: When I made fishing plans for the weekend on Monday, the weather forecast was filled with nothing but sunshine and perfect conditions. By Friday we were staring right into a cold front and falling snow. The forecast flipped 180 degrees and so did the expectations. It’s amazing how 15 degrees will turn the day from possibly OMG-Fantastic to “just get through the day”. On with the report…

Hit a river section up in the high country under cold conditions. Parked the truck and put on the waders with a starting temp of 3 degrees. The nostrils froze up, eyes watered and the skin stung for those first few minutes. Mist rose up from the river and the grass was covered with a layer of heavy frost. The sky was clear and the sun was rising. What a welcome sight this was and a huge contrast to just a few hours ago in the metro region where there was falling snow.

The first cast or two was met with a follow, a flash and then ice. Ice covering the rod and line can be a bit grueling to fish through so a lot of perseverance is required. A few adjustments and WHAM! Don pulls out a quality brown. This is a good sized brown trout for this gold medal section.

I move ahead of don and cast through a pool of water with a cutbank and a lot of wood structure. First cast I run the spinner along the edge of the current near the cutbank. I was casting upstream so my hand was reeling fast to keep action on the spinning blade. Wham! It was a beastie brown. Fighting him in the current was tricky but not near as tricky as trying to get a photo where I was standing. Rather than messing around trying to get that perfect shot I decided to simply take one quick vertical shot.

A lot of trout aficionados say a vertical hold is hard on the trout and poor form. Rather than agree or disagree, I only vertical hold the warm water species 99% of the time. In this case, it was my only option for a picture with minimal handling. This is something I wrestle with mentally quite a bit as I love to get fish pictures but not out there to hurt the fish. Any handling hurts trout so I definitely try to handle a fish as least as possible with capturing one picture of the bigger fish caught that day.

Don found a decent hole that was holding a number of fish including this spectacular rainbow. This may be the same rainbow trout that has haunted him ever since the first trip to this section. So this fish meant a lot!

We fished through the day hoping that the sunshine would spark an explosive reaction from the fish but it just didn’t happen. You can have 100 fish days on these gold medal sections and then there are days when you get one good fish. On this day we hit just below the middle…big fish were the norm but you had to hunt them down.

Colors that worked well for me were once again the brown and silver patterns that resembled the brown or rainbow trout that inhabit this river. The brown colors were far more successful than the silver or rainbow colors. Brown trout also happen to be the dominant species in this section. One thing that was a bit surprising is that I did not get a single fish on the rapalas. I don’t know what to think of this as there is always a few fish willing to chomp on the 1/8oz brown trout lure. Everything was caught on the spinner (blue fox, panther martin, mepps…pick your flavor as they all work well for this method and I pretty much use them all at various time of the year).

The new camera has some serious white-wash in most of the pics that I took. Guess I will have to dial into the settings a bit more. It kills me to see fish this good messed up a bit by a poor quality picture. Don did much better on his end with his camera. Thanks again Don for backing me up on this trip. I would have called this off on Thursday had it not been for the constant gut-check throughout the week.

Ice up tip: Something that can difficult to fish through is ice up. I found a few simple things that help combat this while I was fighting frozen water on my pole most of the day.

1. Bending your rod tip will break the ice that forms along your rod. This layer of ice will compound the problem by anchoring the ice that forms on your eye-lets. Breaking the extra layer of ice from your rod makes it a bit easier to manage the ice that forms on the eyelets.
2. Shake the extra water off of your rod when you retrieve the lure. This simple tip reduced my ice up in half. I would retrieve my lure about a foot or two from the tip of my rod.

Shake off the excess water before bending the rod tip. I could then dip the tip of the rod back into the water (this adds a layer of lubrication) before casting and then shake the rod again after casting. Occasionally I would have to dip my rod tip back in the water as ice re-formed constricting on the line.

Note: Gold Medal waters are artificial fly/lure only and in most cases the trout or certain species of trout must be released. De-barb the treble hooks for less damage to the fish and handle the fish as minimally as possible.

Good luck and good fishing!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunday on the Creek

This is my first post/report in a while so please forgive me if my jubilant enthusiasm doesn’t come through. Its been several months since I have caught any fish of quality. My trips have been far and few between compared to the usual 2 or 3 times a week. Paying bills and a new gig have kept me driving past water rather than fishing it. On with the post…

Sun was melting the ice flow on a nearby creek. It was one of those unexpected bursts of heat that knocks the ice down in heavy sheets or small clumps. As more water flows the entire sheet seems to break up and clear water is open for fishing. The chain reaction of melting and shifting ice will often drop trapped or dwelling creatures into the water. The fish will often react by feeding more aggressively than they did just a week or two ago.

At least that is what it felt like when I approached the water last Sunday with that sunshine beaming on my face. I could see where water was coming out of a culvert in volume and tossed my spinner out a few times. Third cast was perfect landing right in the riffle with the bail of the reel flipping over all by itself to manage the slack instantly. As soon as my hand started reeling there was a heavy tug on the end. It was a spastic flurry of action that was almost foreign but so familiar. My heart was pounding as the fish ran upstream in a quick burst of speed.

“Let him run…don’t try and horse him.” echoed the voice in my head. Even though this was a small fish by most standards, the principles are pretty much the same. Once it got into the shallow pool next to me it was finished. One quick shot and release. A quality rainbow (cutbow actually) for this slip of water and man it feels good to get the skunk off my back. Seriously…I have been carrying this thing around since October 2008.

The rest of the trip got a little tougher. A small brown trout and two more smaller rainbows (we are talking 6, maybe 7-inches tops here guys…if you want to brag about big fish you don’t fish here) was about all I could muster out of many pools, riffles and cutbanks. Some areas were blocked with ice or had chunks to fish through but most of the creek was open in the lower section right there in town after being locked up for most of the winter season. Beautiful day to get out and get in a few casts. This guy had the same plan, different attack and working a gorgeous section of water.

The fish seemed to be under medium to mild pressure and willing to hit the smaller spinners and rapalas. Getting very close to the structure was most crucial. Even though I saw signs of small hatches, surface strikes seemed to be nil and all of the fish were locked tight to the bank or other structure. Fishing the areas that receive the least pressure were the only areas that seemed to cough up any fish of size. A few spots really surprised me.

Patterns that worked the best were the 1/8 and 1/4oz spinners in silver as well as the small rapalas in brown or rainbow trout. I didn’t notice any preference between the two lure types other than what was tied on when I threw the first few casts. The main factor here was going with as small of a lure as possible and getting it to run through the spot as best as possible. Had to try a lot of spots but effort is often rewarded.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.