On this morning there was fog and that fog kept the sun at bay as we floated along. The coolness of the morning held the temperatures to a fall-like feel. The water from the dam has been holding in the mid 50's and our angler's were commenting on the changing weather patterns. Our early morning "well trained" nymphs knew nothing about temperatures of changing of seasons. The nymphs were there for one reason and one reason only...to lure fish and get them to the net. It wasn't long before our "well trained" nymphs were doing their job.
Water splashed from the lines coming tight as the guys began setting hooks from the front and rear braces. The guys were getting good mends and the fish were eating with some regularity. The fog began to lift and sun began to heat the surface of the water. We searched out some rising fish, but they were not interested in dries. As usual though, just drop a nymph in their face and they make a decisive decision to eat almost immediately.
We all want to believe the "big brown trout" is the wisest trout in the river. The big brown trout, the fish that only eats early or late and sometimes only after dark. The big brown trout, the fish that is difficult to catch because this fish knows all the tricks and uses those tricks on a regular basis. The big brown trout is not the only fish in the river that knows and uses all their tricks to get away from a firmly lodged hook of the fly...as Dan would soon find out.
We rowed to one of my favorite Fall pools. In an attempt to describe the pool here we go. An overall description is this...the water comes off a shoal and drops into a nice pool. But, there's more to this pool than that description. There is a "sucker blow-down" that just gets pounded by everyone, but the closest good current seam to that blow-down is several feet away. So the blow-down is just that for the suckers. Many angler's have thrown a line across the leading edge of the pool and feeding fish to find out they have been suckered into the wood that has been laying there for years. Just past the blow-down, what most folks think of as the heart of the pool begins and so do the rises of the trash fish. The rising trash fish can fool even some of the most seasoned anglers. The trout are several feet downstream making their own rises. Those trout have a front row seat for all the angler's casting at the blow-down and those trout, if they could, they would laugh. Those trout are out of reach until the boat, which is the only way to fish the pool effectively, reaches a slight turn in the current. The inside of the pool has no current, but it is in an angler's sight and looks likely for a take. The inside looks likely, that is, until the cast is made and the fly lands in zero flow. The feeding lane is really narrow but productive.
Keeping an angler's focus on the feeding lane can be tough, but Dan had no problem dropping his fly on exactly the right line. There was no blow-down, there were no misconceptions about the heart of the pool, no shot into the dead hole at the inside of the bend. Dan had the fly on track for the subtle rise that can almost go unnoticed. He threw in a mend and the fly began to make a clean pass down the feeding lane. Dan looked down to perform some line management and that's when the big rainbow decided to eat. The eat made the guy on the oars go a little crazy which snapped Dan to attention and he lifted the rod. The fish was on and began doing its best to dislodge the hook from its upper lip and to relieve itself of the pressure that was now trying to turn its head. The fish flashed and a big pink stripe came into mine and Brent's sight. We knew it was a good one, a fish anyone reading this would like to have on the end of their tippet sometime. The fish completed the turn and dove, then simply spit the fly. The rod went limp and the air seemed to leave the boat. It was a little quiet for a short time. Dan recovered quickly but this fish was truly the one that got away.
We followed the river to the final bend. A number of fish had been tricked by the anglers in the front and rear casting braces. The "well-trained" flies had lured the fish to eat and then held on tight until the fish slid into the net. Some nice fish were caught while others and one rainbow in particular got away. The fog began to come back to the river as we loaded the drifter on the trailer and again we were all commenting on the changing weather patterns.