Friday, July 20, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

Yesterday morning was going to be a trip to the local smallmouth bass river, one that I posted about previously here. As with all plans, I thought I had this one figured out. I knew that with all the thunderstorms we had last week, the river would be up. However, I kept an eye on the USGS Water Data and the river seemed to be coming down compared to last week. I have come to depend more and more on this data to help me avoid driving somewhere to fish, only to find the water too high/muddy/dangerous to wade. Most of the time, it works well.
Plan A

By last night, the river was running in the 700-750 cfs range, a little high but I had fished it at those flows before. I knew that I would have to be careful and avoid the deeper spots, but I felt comfortable fishing it at this level. Ideally, 500-600 cfs seems to be when I have had my best luck, much lower and the water is often too low. I checked the gauge again yesterday morning, and it was still around 700, so Trent and I headed out for the river. Evidently, there was a major increase in water flow between when I last checked and when we arrived at the river. There are two dams upstream from where we fish, so flows aren't always dependent on rain to increase. I guess they were releasing water, because the river was high and muddy when we drove over the bridge. I checked the gauge again on my phone, and it had jumped to close to 900! We knew that this was very close to the upper limit of safe wading for where we planned to fish, and with the very good possibility that the river would continue rising we decided to come up with a Plan B.

Plan B
Smallmouth were out for the day, but we figured that with the recent rains, the trout streams should be in a little better shape, and a whole lot easier to wade than a blown out river. We decided to head toward a wild trout stream near Marion that we have fished occasionally for several years now. Luckily, it wasn't far out of the way to swing by my house to switch the 6wt and 8wt bass rods for the 4wt and 5wt trout rods. I surely didn't want to attempt presenting a size 14 dry fly on an 8wt! After a quick stop and equipment switch, it was on to the mountains.
Small but feisty 

The creek looked to be in better shape than the last several times I had fished it. The rain had definitely helped the flow, and I figured that with better conditions the fishing would be good.  We were able to bring a few small rainbows to hand, and I did catch one little brown trout, but overall the fishing was tougher that I figured it would be. The last several times I have fished this stream, it seems like the size and numbers of trout are lower than in previous years. The biggest trout I caught today I would say was around 8 inches, where this used to be about the average size for this creek.
Biggest of the day

 There's always the possibility that I just fished the creek on an off day, or that I had an off day myself, but I did seem to catch better fish in past years here. However, with that being said, I did manage to miss one very nice trout that rose in a run right beside an undercut bank. I hesitate to guess the size of a fish I didn't catch, but I'm going to say at least 10 inches, but probably bigger. This was by far the biggest trout I saw all day, and it just proved the old saying about all the big ones getting away.
Future Trophy Brown
We were both fishing dry flies, and I had success on Thunderheads, Deer Hair Caddis, and  a female Adams. Trent caught his fish on a Rio Grande Trude. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining about catching small trout, because I truly had fun fishing this stream. I took the 4wt fly rod that I bought when I first starting fly fishing several years ago, and this was the perfect rod to let the small trout show off a little bit. For me, it was a reminder of just how much fun a lighter rod could make small trout. Most of my recent fishing has been smallmouth, and it was a nice change to go from an 8wt and big bass flies to the 4wt and dry flies. Big or small, a trout eating a dry fly is what got me hooked on this wonderful sport of fly fishing and it is always a thrill.

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph

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