Journal notes from quality destinations across the country...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Summer of October

The sun was shining and the temperature was around 50 degrees as I walked downstream, away from our two-man pontoon boat. I could see that the riffle along the edge of the island was dumping water into a deeper run. I walked carefully through the boulder-strewn stretch of river to make my way from ankle-deep to thigh-deep water. I pulled line off the reel and made a few false casts, shooting at a 90-degree angle toward shore. As the line drifted downstream, the 3-inch long black streamer sank into the water column and as it reached the 45-degree position I began to make slow strips to move the fly and maintain contact.

On my fourth cast, the fly hung up and I thought momentarily that I'd found bottom. But the movement on the line soon told me otherwise and I lifted the rod to set the hook. The fish turned and ran downstream and I let it go. I began to reel up when the fish turned and ran back up the run, going past me and slowing as I kept up pressure. I got the fish in close then and could see it was a good one. Once in the net, he measured out roughly to 17 or 18 inches. And he was fat in the belly.

This was a real prize for me. After a long afternoon of trying different flies to no effect, it was exhilirating to hook such a big prize on a streamer. I waded back to the same casting position and tried again. Two casts later something big took my fly and immediately ran upstream with authority. I tried to give out the slack line with my off hand but the fish moved too quickly. Just like that he broke the 4X tippet.

My shoulders dropped and I looked to Frank, my fishing partner.

"That was a big one..." I lamented.

We caught several more before the day was over. And all on streamers. The afternoon sun had long since dropped behind the hills above the canyon as we rowed for the boat launch, content with what the day had given us. A great day during a two-week stretch of sunshine in the middle of the month. We'll long remember our summer of October.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fishing in the Dark

When you're out on a stream in the middle of nowhere at midnight, the darkness can sometimes make it feel like you are stuck up a creek with a paddle... But we did alright this night and had the canoe moving quickly against the gentle current on our way to a favorite hole. Neither of us had tried this location after dark before but we were excited about the possibilities. In the end we caught a few fish and we called our few hours on the water a success...

And, as it turned out, it was the setting and the time of day that was the real story.

"Casting," David called out.

I couldn't help ducking a little.

I had no idea where his line was going and I was either very trusting of this man who I've been fishing with on many occasions... or I was dumb. I've never had a big Wooly Bugger stuck in the back of my head (although in the spirit of full disclosure, I should admit I have done it to someone else) and I really didn't want tonight to be the night I put a tick mark next to that little gem on my ever-expanding list of fishing mishaps...

His line hit the water, something I confirmed by sound alone, and then I put my line in the air.

"Casting." I said with a neutral tone.

As I fished I thought about how often I have been out in the dark with a heavy weighted fly. I've thrown Muddler's by moonlight in Idaho for Cutthroat. I've tried for Musky and Smallmouth, even this summer. I've caught lots of Snook on the docklights of south Florida and even tried for Tarpon one night. So, I actually have some experience at this and can do it by feel now, something I associate with Jedi powers. You either get the feel for it or you spend all night untangling your leader. For myself, the secret is knowing not to put too much line in the air. Keep the range reasonable and all will be well...

I held a mini flashlight in my teeth and changed flies. The red lense provided just enough light and I tied on a small Puglisi micro minnow in olive and white. On my first cast, I made a half dozen strips and was fast to a trout. I eventually took a flash photo of him in the net but my camera didn't focus very well in the total darkness and I went home with the blurry photo of a fat Rainbow Trout.

Still it was an adventure and put me ahead of the game. After all, the fish we caught were more than any my other buddies got at home asleep in their beds.