May Fishing Binge - Part 1 (Wild Tiger Trout!!!)
Each year near the end of May I go on an extended fishing binge. I get up around 3:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. each morning, drive to my location, fish all day, and get home just in time to eat, bathe, and go to bed. Usually it lasts for about ten days but this year I limited it to eight days.
I typically catch well over 1,000 trout during my binge, but this year I kept my expectations low due to low water volumes and a month that will likely go down as the hottest May ever. One thing for sure, I didn't expect any Signature Days, which is what I call days when I catch over 200 trout.
On Wednesday morning, May 20th, I got up at 3:30 a.m. and drove to a popular stream hoping it would be void of anglers on a weekday. The air temperature was 52-degrees and the water temperature registered 50-degrees on my thermometer. Conditions looked good though the water level was well below normal for May.
Shortly after starting another angler jumped right in front of me. I looped around him and luckily he didn't loop me. My Pink Tread Silver spinners fooled the wild brown trout at a good pace, and after 5.75 hours I had logged 107 in my little notepad.
From there I drove to another section of the same stream and luckily no one was there. That's a big advantage of fishing on a weekday. Of course, the trout would soon tell me if someone had been there earlier in the day. I fished 2.25 hours and caught 35 trout under intense sun but a cool air temperature of 56-degrees. I closed the day with 142 trout in 8.00 hours.
Dame's rocket was blooming streamside.
After getting to bed the previous night just before midnight due to a social commitment, I got up at 3:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 21st, so that I could get to a rather popular stream at daybreak. I always say that every minute an angler gets to this stream after daybreak is likely one less minute of good fishing there that day.
In the morning a bald eagle flew low past me, and late in the morning a woodchuck had lunch along the creek.
After 9.50 hours I had 149 trout and decided to begin the one-hour-plus hike back to my SUV. I was pleased with the day but wondered where I was ever going to find good water for six more outings.
Sometimes I pick a real dud for first thing in the morning, and today, Friday May 22nd, that became clear after no more than a few casts. After 2.00 hours I had fished about a mile of stream and only had a dozen trout, including a 15" wild brown, to my credit.
With bright sunshine and low water, I decided to go to a well-known little river where a trout movement study is currently underway. It took twenty-three minutes to catch my first trout, but after that the action improved and was decent.
This is the last thing you want to see ahead of yourself when you're spinner fishing. With 23 trout logged in 2.50 hours, I decided to move to a small mountain freestoner.
Not surprisingly, the water was low on this Class A run. It looked more like a July water level than a May volume. But I had fished it many times in low water, and I thought I could dupe another 65 trout to hit 100 for the day.
One of the things I find odd about the trout in this stream is that some of them can be beautiful.
While often the largest trout are rather bland looking, even though they're definitely wild trout, too.
I cast my White Bead Gold spinners for 5.25 hours and just managed to tally and release 65 trout by the time I reached the point where the stream peters out. This 13.5" brook trout was my 60th trout here. I suspect this is a stocked trout, though it had large eyes and a colorful spot pattern. Its emaciated look made me think it was not a native brookie, though the stream is Class A.
While walking down the highway back to my SUV the wind was blowing pretty hard. One gust nearly lifted me off my feet as both of my legs hit the guardrail. A live tree well over a foot in diameter snapped off not 25 yards in front of me and crashed to the ground.
I knew I was in for a challenging day on Saturday, May 23rd, when I had to scrape frost off of the windows of my SUV. I went to a stream where I felt the 30-degree air temperature would have a minimal effect. The water temperature was 50-degrees and a cool mist rose from the water.
The wild brown trout clearly have been eating well. Of special note was a 1.5" wild rainbow trout that luckily didn't throw the hook during the exhausting battle. More on this later.
After 3.25 hours I had 32 trout and the action had completely died. Three more stops of .25 hours each yielded just one more trout. Things weren't looking good for the day.
I decided to drive an hour or so to a tiny mountain stream that I rarely fish. I had no expectations of catching a lot more trout; I just wanted to salvage the day.
One good thing about this stream is that although it is tiny and choked with rhododendron in places, it has a good watershed that holds in the water and releases it slowly. During drought I have often seen this rivulet flowing more than many much larger freestoners. It also tends to run cooler than many other streams, though I expected this to be a minus today rather than a plus. The water temperature was 47-degrees.
The creek has a decent population of native brook trout.
And the wild browns there seem to like my White Bead Gold spinners, too. Some of these red-spotted browns are downright gorgeous.
With a mix of these two species, there's always the remote chance of catching a wild tiger trout. This 6.5"er was my third trout on the stream. It is my 20th lifetime wild tiger trout and my first since I caught a 4.5"er on May 15, 2011. I've caught over 36,000 trout between these two wild tiger trout.
Interestingly, I had caught my 19th wild tiger trout no more than fifty yards from where I caught this one. This made my day. And since I had caught a wild rainbow trout earlier in the day, I caught four species of wild trout today. Without checking my records, I believe this is the first time I have done this.
I fished 3.50 hours on this brook and caught 41 trout, giving me 74 in 7.50 hours for the day.
In the first four days of my binge I caught and released 465 trout in 34.75 hours. Considering the conditions I felt this was pretty good. I have a hunch the next four days of my binge will be good, too.
- Frank Nale -