Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dry Flies and Snickers Bars

Part of the Arsenal
Howard and I have fished the Elk River several times this year. This time Howard wanted to fish the Caney. We exchanged texts about water clarity, water temperatures and slow fishing on the Caney. Eventually there we were, out on the river looking for that perfect circle from a rise. We have been a good team this year. We have caught fish, some trips more than others, but most times we boat at least one really nice fish by anyone's standards. Howard likes to fish dries, as do I, but also we understand that sometimes nymphs are simply just what's working. This day we would try dries and nymphs, both would produce...wait I am getting ahead of myself just a bit.
Fresh Off the Truck
We started the day with a dry/dropper. After a couple changes to the dropper Howard hooked up and after a quick fight the freshly stocked Hatchery Brat was caught, photographed and released to grow. I put Howard on another dropper pattern and then we moved on as the wind picked up. We went to nymphs under a dry for a while and picked up a few more fish, some were better than others but most were the usual suspects. The reports on this day were slow fishing, from just about everyone.
A Decent Brown on a Nymph Pattern
The water is still a greenish dirt color from the sluice and the water temps are running in the 62 degree range. This is pretty much normal for this time of year, although no one likes it all that much. Nymphs under a big dry were working OK and Howard was able to boat several fish. We snacked on hot Cheetos and other "health food". The hunger was growing as we hunted bigger fish. Usually there are some Snickers on board the drifter and I told Howard if he would catch a nice fish we could go ahead and eat  the two Snickers I stashed in the cooler when I left the house that morning. It wasn't like he wasn't trying, because he was putting the fly in the right spots and getting good drifts. I was changing flies every chance I could. Still it was a bit slow and I was growing more hungry by the minute.
We spotted different hatches throughout this day. We saw a nice caddis hatch, the usual midge hatches and some tricos that came late in the day, which is a bit unusual. The late evening bat-hatch also came out before we got off the water, but we didn't fish a bat pattern. We continued munching on the health food and trying to bring fish to the top. You can't force them to come up, well some people say you can't anyway. The nymphs got a bit boring after a while and we slid into a nice spot where fish seem to eat top water more often than not.
The fish haven't been responding to hoppers and beetles lately. So I guees they have faded a bit. We had an Isonychia dry on Howard's 4 weight Sage with a Trico trailing close behind. The fish were rising in slack water more than on the usual lines. We spotted a fish feeding on a small seam by some structure and Howard laid the cast right where it needed to be, then flipped a short mend. The feeding fish didn't waste any time and came up to the fly and sucked it down with a big splash.
When I first saw the fish feeding it was just eating with subtle takes on the bugs that were popping off the seam. The fish seemed to be smaller than we wanted, but heck how can you pass on fishing dries to feeding trout? So anyway, Howard made the cast, flipped a short mend, the fish ate and the battle was on. I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing and just watched the fight from the rowers bench while smoking a fine cigar. When the end of the rod began those tight shakes I knew it was a better fish and put down the cigar, then grabbed the net. The fight was well on its way to an epic battle Well maybe not epic, but lots of give, some take here and there...you get the picture. The fish made several short runs on the 4 weight, while Howard and I discussed the many snags just below the boat. A sense of urgency came about us both just as the fish turned its head and finally came to the net. We had our nice fish on a dry fly and the river gave up another prize.
Livin' Like a Health Nut
It was about time the fish gave up because I was really growing tired of carrots, Wheat Thins, cigars and Mt Dew.  That Snickers was just around the corner... We took the usual shots and Howard snapped a photo to text to his fishing partner who opted to stay home. We continued fishing to rising fish but the sun was going down and the Fall moonlight was just starting to shine down on the river. After a bit more fishing we lost sight of the flies and called a day. The celebration of a slow day- turned decent, was discussed and the Snickers came out of the cooler.
We stowed the rods and started toward the ramp. Isonychias are not exactly a primary hatch on the Caney Fork, the Tricos add to the story late in the day on these warmer water temps. There have been a few more Caddis hatches as of late and the midges are pretty much a given. Soon the egg pattens will come into play for hungry rainbows....

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