Sometimes when the fishing is just not as good as I'd like, and that seems to be happening a lot lately, something special happens to make the day memorable. It could be having a red fox trot by in the early morning fog with a dead rabbit in its mouth, a bobcat walking on the trunk of a tree that had fallen into the stream, or maybe an extraordinary wild trout.
And so it was on Thursday, August 20th, 2015. I had already scheduled the day off before realizing that I had a dentist appointment that afternoon, so going on a little bit of a road trip was out of the question. After weighing my options I settled on a stream close to home that hadn't seen any spinners yet this year attached to the end of my line.
It usually doesn't take me long on a stream to figure out if the fishing is going to be good or not, and when I fish twenty-five yards of prime riffles that should have a little wild brown trout in every depression, but not one trout has even given my spinner a sniff, well, I kind of know it's not going to be any good.
My first stop on this morning yielded 14 trout in 1.25 hours, including a 15.5" wild brown. This may not seem bad, but I fished a long stretch where I expected to catch at least 50 trout. Maybe I'm spoiled, or maybe I haven't given in to the fact that it is dry and late August.
From there I drove to this section of a rather large river hoping to salvage the morning before going to Plan B, a small mountain run.
But the action here was worse than on my first stop. I only stayed because I was looking ahead to a section where I thought other spinner anglers may have avoided due to the lack of good habitat. I had done well there in past years. Not today. I fished 1.75 hours on this river and caught just 9 trout, including this 14.5" wild brown, taken on a 60-foot cast to the base of a tree on the other side of the river.
Next up was my Plan B destination. After walking in to the stream it was approaching 11:00 a.m. I figured I could fish until slightly after 2:00 p.m. The flow was low. With only 23 trout caught and released so far for the day, I knew catching 100 trout was out. Other than sub-par outings on July 4th during a high-water event and dealing with low water on May 23rd, I hadn't had a day under 100 trout since April 19th.
I kept my fingers crossed that something extraordinary would happen to make the day memorable, and for some reason, I kind of expected it.
Despite the low water, to my amazement the trout were actually hitting quite well. Some wild browns were fooled.
Though small, this little brookie looked like it was dressed up for courting.
Then I stepped up to a plunge pool below a log jam that serves as a summer home to a beaver. Due to a log preventing any presentation from downstream, I climbed up on the right bank and ever so slowly eased my way into position for a cast into the chest-deep water. This is where wearing camouflage is important.
My cast into the pool was a little short -- that can happen when one isn't used to casting from land -- but I was in disbelief when a large brook trout with white fins and an orange glow headed for my White Bead Gold spinner just as I ended my retrieve. It didn't spook, but would it strike on a follow-up cast?
I got my answer seconds later when the trout again rose from the depths and nailed my spinner. To land it I had to jump off of the bank and into the water. Luckily, along the edge the water was about a half-inch below the top of my hip boots.
After quickly measuring the 12.5" native brook trout (likely a female) against the grid of inch-markers on my rod, I began to take a few photos just as a light rain began to fall.
I was in awestruck by the wide orange belly and blue-haloed red spots, not to mention the other coloration.
Without question, this single trout made the day memorable. Sometimes this happens.
I fished a total of 3.00 hours and caught 39 wild trout, giving me 62 trout in 6.00 hours for the day.
- Frank Nale -