• Exceeding Expectations

    I didn’t know what to expect. Being the middle of winter, with all the recent snow and rain the mountains received lately, and the rollercoastering temperatures plummeting again, the plan was to start with a pair of #22 midge emergers. Surprisingly, there was no snow on the ground, but the water was cold, high and fast. I started at a favorite pool on a wild trout stream, but wasn’t able to tempt a strike. There was a decent run just downstream that looked enticing. I had never fished it before. Normally, it is shallow and flat, but today it had depth, current, and a slow, deep inside bend sandwiched between the main current and the bank. I tried several tactics as I fished it thoroughly, but again I couldn’t garner any interest.

    Upstream was a long stretch consisting of pocket water, shallow runs (usually), short riffles and lots of conflicting currents. It is difficult to nymph effectively with weight and an indicator. It is much easier to dissect it with a dry/dropper due to the repetitive casting and short drifts involved, and the oftentimes small, calm pockets surrounded by raging currents that require precise, delicate placement. I tied on the standard fair for spring through fall – a #12 dry and a #14 bead head dropper. Before moving on, I reworked the pool nymphed previously with the midge emergers and on the third or fourth cast a small rainbow nailed the dropper. It fought rather aggressively for this time of year.

    Just above the pool was a wide, shallow run with varying currents. It is about the easiest place to get a good drift through this stretch. I made several casts along the current seams without any takes. Then I placed my flies on a small, tranquil, almost unnoticeable pocket in the midst of all the turbulence. Dead center in the following photo:

    The elk hair caddis (read indicator) bobbed around for three or four seconds. All of a sudden, a brown trout burst through the surface and smashed it. The take was so violent I could easily hear the commotion above the roar of the stream. I really pissed it off when I set the hook. It fought hard as it tore through the water. It too, didn’t fight like I would have expected for the 21st of January. Lethargic it wasn’t. I know the water was cold – my toes were frozen. Eventually, I brought a nice 10 or 11 inch wild fish to hand. It would be the only one caught on the dry this day.

    A short while later, another small rainbow came from a pocket separating the current beneath an overhanging rhododendron.

    [IMG]I then came to a large, deep pool that had a long, shallow flat at the tail end. I fished the transition area where the depth changed with the dry/dropper and caught a couple more rainbows. Then, I switched to a heavily weighted nymph and indicator, dredged the deepest section and caught another feisty 10 or 11 inch brown. (Both pictures are of the same fish.)

    Winter fishing on a wild trout stream can be tough. I was hoping to catch at least five fish today and would have been ecstatic with 10. I ended the day with a dozen brought to hand and a couple of others lost right at my feet. It was better than I expected.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Exceeding Expectations started by Lone Wulff View original post