Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Fly Fishing

Craig and Conrad on a Mid-Day Break
Father- Son trips are a lot of fun and we have been on several this year. This time Craig and his son Conrad came in to fish from the drifter. We made the usual arrangements and would be floating by mid morning on a 1/2 day float. Our target would be rainbows, brook trout and browns, better known as The Slam.The day started out with rain moving from West to East...just like the Weather Channel Girl predicted. When we made it to the ramp the rain had pretty much stopped for the day. A cool breeze lingered as well as some clouds which were heavy at times throughout the morning. We shoved off from the gravel bar as we usually do and the flies hit the water.
Skunk Removal (The First Fish of the Day)
After the last trip I expected the fish to practically jump in the boat. But, the fish didn't jump in the boat they made the guys earn their strikes early on. At the beginning of a trip it usually takes time for me to get adjusted to anglers fishing styles and for anglers to get used to my fishing style. We went through the usual routine of cast to a spot, mend, mend, mend. Craig made an analogy of their fishing skills. He compared his and Conrad's skills to skiing and likened their skill to a Green Circle. When their flies hit the water and they made some mends, I decided Craig had already underestimated their abilities. Conrad said something about knocking the rust off his cast and soon we were fishing. 
Craig Drifting a Nymph Early in the Day
Our plan was to fish only the likely spots so the guys could make it back for a dinner reservation. I told them up front, I am not a good time-keeper and certainly not good at getting off the water on time (whatever that means). As a matter of fact those words are even hard to say. Craig agreed to keep time and we would pace ourselves as best we could. It wasn't long before Craig removed the skunk from the boat and Conrad followed suit with a few fish of his own. We weren't too far into the trip when Conrad boated a healthy rainbow that came out of a tight spot in some heavy structure. Already the guys were hitting their marks and those marks were paying dividends. Conrad had quickly knocked the rust off, but also seemed to struggle with shooting the line. We made an adjustment to his cast and got a little more distance, but still the line wasn't shooting up to par with Conrad's mechanics.
Conrad and a Morning Rainbow
After Conrad went on a run of several fish we checked out his gear. He had a nice rod and quality reel, and we diagnosed the shooting problem as the old line. The line was slightly gummy and needed to be replaced. I brought along a couple extra set-ups and put Conrad on a 5 wt Hydros with Orvis line. He got used to the new set up quickly. A few minutes later Conrad wasn't only hitting the marks with increased accuracy, he was also shooting an extra 10' - 15' of line.
We stopped the drifter while Craig fished a ledge. Conrad was fishing the opposite side of the boat and we had a couple fish rising along the ledge. Conrad dropped a midge along the ledge and a fish raced out. Just as the fish came out Conrad made a mend and the fish fell downstream and ghosted against the ledge. Conrad stuck the fly back in the same spot and just let it float. We saw the fish come off and nail the fly, the indicator dove and the fight was on. It took a few minutes to get the fish out of the structure but the fish came to the net and Conrad had a quality rainbow. Conrad had quickly graduated to a Black Diamond. 
Conrad's 19"er
Rippin' de Lip
We continued downstream and Conrad continued to pick up fish. Craig would get dialed in and pick up fish as well, but it appeared to be Conrad's day. We grabbed some snacks and gave ourselves some fuel. We skipped some spots and caught the usual suspects in most of the likely places. The sun was trying to come through the clouds and breaking on some parts of the river. That is when the bugs began to pop.
A Colorful Suspended Brook Trout
Craig was still fishing hard, throwing the fly into every likely spot. Conrad was batting clean up from the back of the boat and picking up fish. We made our way onto a nice shoal, with several small pools and a heavy run. The rocks along the outside edge of the run produced some nice break water. Craig was focused and dropped his fly on the seam closest to the bank. The fly floated and we watched. The indicator dove and Craig set the hook. After missing a few fish with a light hook-set, Craig dug in and ripped some lips on this take. The indicator moved and then stopped, Craig gave another pull and the rod kept the same bend. Was he hooked on a log or a rock edge? The rod tip made a few small dives and then the fish was on the move. Not only did Craig have a nice fish, but there was also another nice fish following close behind. Craig finally got his fish close enough to see the other fish was tailing his catch. We noticed the fish Craig had on the line was the larger of the two. Our plan was coming together.
Fall Along the River
Craig continued the game of tug-of-war. The big rainbow would make a run and Craig would gain line back. The rainbow would sit and sulk and Craig kept the pressure on. Craig pulled the rainbow from the run and the rainbow kept inching back. Head shakes, big rolls and sulking were this rainbow's ammunition. But, Craig got the head up and the fish finally rolled over into the net. Craig was into a quality fish in a big way and made his way into the 20 + Club not to mention graduation to a Black Diamond rating.
Craig Puts the Plus in the 20 + Club
We continued toward the takeout and the time slipped past. The dinner plans were acknowledged and the flies continued to be launched. The guys were still into the fish and the indicators continued to dive. As we floated into the final section we decided to call it a day. The guys wouldn't be too late to the dinner. 
If anglers measured skill, by ski run difficulty, Craig and Conrad would have started out much better than a green circle and certainly earned additional levels throughout the day. Hopefully they made it to dinner on time, hopefully they can get their fun tickets punched again and hopefully those likely spots will hold other nice fish.
Early Morning Colors Along the River

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