Looking to make the most of the December warm spell I headed out to cover some more ground on the Hot Tip. This is that place one angler said that I might want to check out considering that I had covered the other sections.
Get to the parking lot running late. This is starting to become a problem on some trips where that extra cup of coffee or two grabs me in a headlock and forces itself down my throat. There are already a handful of cars stacked up and the trail is showing signs of wear. Public pressure is not my friend for many reasons.
Sometimes I like to cast a few times and see what the hot flavor is before reaching a few of the better pools up ahead. Stepping off to test a couple of patterns and a few fish roll into the hand.
(Above: Little cutbow sporting the greenish back and less dots than a genuine rainbow yet not quite enough cutthroat trout to be a pure bred cutty. Get on you crazy little hybrid. Go get big.)
A few more casts and another tug comes along. This one has a bit more gusto. Land the fin slapper and see it is another cutbow. This photo shows more of the markings near the jaw line that gives the fish its name. Cutthroat is about as respectable as a name can get for a fish.
(Above: Maybe this is the bigger brother of the other fish or maybe that other fish was just dinner for this one. Apologies for a little color strain on this one…the colors of this fish are so much more vibrant than this photo depicts.)
Instead of moving on to the one or two better spots ahead, I waste too much time dinking around the first few areas on the way upstream. Sling a few more lures here and there poking around rocks or riffles to pick up a brown trout that had a bit of fight for its size.
(Above: It is hard to capture the fight of a fish with just a photo. This one had some scrap!)
By now an hour or two has faded into the distance. A few fish have been caught and one or two of them have confessed enough details for me to formulate makings of a successful day. Now I need to reach the one or two prime spots that lie further up ahead.
Climb up and step back onto the trail and my hopes fade at the sight of three persons walking up the road ahead me. These were not dog walkers, bird watchers or otherwise sightseers…these were anglers. I would have to contend with them for whatever water was upstream. To make things completely strange, I noticed they were eyeballing me to some extent. If I picked up the pace of my walking…so would they. One time I moved off the edge of the cliff to the water in hopes of drawing them to the river but they didn’t bite. They seemed set on walking ahead of me.
“Oh I bet those bastages are going right for the sweet spot….sonofa!!!” Screams the voice inside my head while I chastise myself for those two extra cups of coffee. “Guess I’ll work what I can til they move off…dangit! That one spot is the main reason I came here. Only have myself to blame.”
Turn the bend and see the trio looking at the large pool of water that flows around several large rocks. All they have to do is walk down a few more feet and they would see the fish stacking up in the shallows and even bigger ones lying in the trough. This is the last patch of pooled water on the stretch and these three guys would lock it up for most of the day. Curses roll off my tongue as I look at the guys staring into the water and then they look up at me. One of the anglers point at me. The other angler looks at the road up ahead.
“Maybe I can get them to move off…it’s my only chance…”
Quickly I move to the other side of the road away from the water, lower my head and act like I am power walking for all I am worth. Under the tip of my eyelids I see the trio start to panic as one of the anglers is making his way down to the first big rock. If he takes one look into the water, the jig will be up. Just then the second angler taps the third angler on the shoulder and then points at me. The third angler looks at me with the panicked confusion I know too well. Then he whistles to the rest of his trio.
“Hey…I think there’s better water up ahead.” The third angler blurts out and they begin to move on.
One angler is still looking down on the water and starts to question the motives of the group. Undeterred I stay on the far side of the road and manage somehow to pick up the pace even more. This clinches the deal and the trio breaks off in a brisk walk ahead of me. As the trio slips around the next bend I turn and drop down the cliff to the sweet spot.
Looking at the pool of water is reward enough. Work a few casts to pull out a beauty splake. That’s right, a splake! Part brook trout, part lake trout. Decent sized one too for this slip of water. Setting things up for the photo op and it nearly spells disaster as the camera slips and starts to tumble towards the water. It was all I could do to release the fish and save the camera.
(Above: This would have been a much better picture had the camera not started to topple over. You can see my hand leaving the fish. Caught the camera just before it hit the water. )
Several hours were spent picking apart the pool for more splake along with the occasional brown trout. After the near camera catastrophe earlier I decided to only use the camera if I caught something of real quality. Throw a few casts into a not so fishy looking spot just ahead of the big pool and wham! At first I think it’s a beauty brown trout but once it gets within sight my jaw drops a little bit. Land the fish and see it is as close to the genuine article that I will find in this stretch of water.
(Above: Even though this is likely a cutty\rainbow hybrid, it is close enough to a genuine cutthroat in appearance that I will claim it as such. Without taking a tissue sample and sending it into a lab somewhere…I can only guess.)
Climbing back onto the trail I bask in the feeling of triumph. My third run into the Hot Tip and still catching quality fish. Being able take full advantage of the sweet spot and a few holes along the way was an absolute treat. Showing up late tends to offer lesser results but with a little extra determination you can still hit the prime time action.
Note: This is the last of my December on the Warm Trend series. The weather has now turned to cold and snow. Looks like I will be breaking out the ice gear as well as searching out tasty tailwaters for January. Its good to be finally caught up on the blogilicious (for now) and a few posts were let go to help make this happen. Some posts take longer than others to generate and hope that viewers truly enjoy the material so far.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.