Extremely Slow Fishing
On Friday, I took a vacation day to go fishing. The heavy rain on Thursday made most streams too high to fish. I suspected the extreme cold front would adversely affect the fishing action, but I didn't want to waste the day by staying home.
I started late and drove to a small limestoner I had never fished before. I parked my car and walked quite a ways downstream and began to fish back to my car. For about the first 15 minutes I didn't even see a trout. The habitat looked good, so I kept fishing. I finally had two trout follow but not hit. After another 15 minutes I had a trout short strike, but whiffed on the hookset. I thought about leaving several times but I hate to leave a stream without catching a trout, so I kept going. I had a couple more follows and another short strike before deciding to head to another stream. It marked the first time this year in my limited fishing that I had fished a stream without catching a trout.
I drove to a nearby small limestoner and hooked a heavy trout soon after starting. I thought the trout was under control but carelessly lost the fish. The trout was a wild brown that I believe was around 15 inches. I fished several spots without any action. I was starting to think my 15 year streak without being skunked for the day was in jeopardy. I finally hooked and landed an 8 inch wild brown under a bridge. Unfortunately, that was the only trout landed there, so I left and went to yet another nearby limestoner.
I waded in and hoped for better action. I hadn't fished that stream in a few years. The action was no better so I switched to a plug. After about five minutes a medium sized trout followed the plug, but that's all he did. I tried that lure for another 15 minutes or so without any further interest.
I tied on a larger spinner, thinking maybe that would produce, what did I have to lose? I had a couple of follows, but no hits, and considered wading out and going home, but saw a good looking spot I couldn't pass up. After two casts, a feisty 6 1/2 inch wild brown piled into my spinner. I landed the line stretcher and wondered if I would get any others.
There was another good looking spot ahead, so I waded up to it. I cast my spinner along the seam of moving water. I felt a subtle take and set the hook. My 6' ML action rod throbbed and I knew I had a good fish. "Don't blow this one!" I thought to myself. After a few minutes, I netted this nice wild brown, which was 16 inches on the nose.
I was sure that was going to be the bright spot of an otherwise awful fishing day. I had another good trout follow but not hit. I continued upstream until I reached some deep slow water. I cast my spinner to the base of a large tree. Again the weight of a heavy trout tested my spinning rod. Could it be another hog? I netted the big trout and measured him; 16 1/2 inches; hog #2.
After a period of inactivity, I felt a sharp strike and set the hook. That brown was smaller, but at 13 inches still a good trout.
I continued upstream but had no action for the next 1/2 hour. I was sure that the fun was over. A small trout hit, cleared the water and spit the hook in my direction. I moved quickly upstream as the daylight faded. While pulling my spinner through a deep pocket I felt extra weight and set the hook. The brown took off and the drag on my reel screamed. The heavy brown dove for the sanctuary of two deep rocks but I manuevered him away. Finally, he tired and I was able to scoop my net under him. The brute measured 19 inches.
On the next cast, another heavy trout smashed my spinner. I set the hook and the big brown jumped two feet clear of the water, gave a mighty head shake, and the spinner flew out. A short time later, yet another big trout followed, but didn't hit.
I saw a bridge ahead, and knew I would finish there and walk back to my car. One more trout hit and took to the air and rid itself of my spinner, but it wasn't large.
I only caught six trout on the day, my lowest daily total of the year. Landing three big trout, tangling with a fourth and seeing another one helped to salvage the day. On all previous outings on that stream combined, I had caught a total of two big trout.
Even though the action had been extremely slow the day before, I wanted to celebrate my birthday by going fishing. When I woke up Saturday morning it was raining (what are the odds?), so I stayed in bed a little longer before venturing to a limestone influenced stream I hadn't fished since late May. It was cold enough that I had to wear a light jacket and I wore long wading pants instead of shorts under my waders for the first time since early May.
It took about five minutes before I landed my first trout, an 11 inch wild brown. The water temperature was a chilly 54, which I'm sure was much colder than it had been a couple of days ago.
I caught an eight incher and then had no action until I reached a familiar pool, where I've caught many trout. Three consecutive casts yielded browns of 8 1/2, 10 1/2, and 10 inches. Then I got nothing for 20 minutes before catching a 9 1/2 and a 9 incher on back to back casts. That would be a recurring theme for the day. Lulls followed by short flurries of activity. I closed the hour with another 9 incher.
The next hour also produced eight trout; browns between 8 and 11 inches. I was surprised that I had not caught any sub-legal browns, which are common there.
To that point, my largest trout of the day was 11 inches, but my first trout of the third hour was 12 1/4 inches. A 12 incher followed, then a heavy fish darted out from a cut bank, hit my spinner, thrashed on the surface, and was gone. After another lull in the action, I felt a solid strike, which resulted in this nice 14 3/4 inch wild brown.
A short time later, I caught another 12 incher. In the first two hours, I hadn't caught a single fish 12 inches or larger, but my first four trout in the third hour were at least 12 inches. There was a long period of inactivity before I closed the hour with an 8 1/2 inch brown and a 10 1/2 incher. Six trout came to hand in hour #3, my lowest hourly total so far.
The action improved in the next hour and I landed 12 trout, all browns between 8 and 10 inches. The next hour was slow, though I landed three in a row in a deep pool that were 13, 12 1/2, and 12 inches. An 8 1/2 incher closed another six trout hour.
The weather turned noticeably colder and the action was non-existent. I wasn't even getting a sniff from a trout. Finally, a very nice brown trout drilled my spinner, then dashed around the pool like a mad fool. After leading him to the net, I snapped a couple of pictures and measured him. At 15 1/4 inches, it was my largest trout of the day.
I caught a 9 incher before arriving at a small tributary. I chose to fish up the tiny trib, and it was a good move, as I caught eight trout, including my only sub-legal brown of the day. A surprise colorful 13 3/4 inch rainbow was the highlight of my 1/2 hour on the tributary.
As I walked back to my car, I crossed over the mainstem and decided to try a few more casts. I caught five browns and lost two others in the short time I was there. More good looking water lay ahead, but I decided to quit for the day and make the 45 minute walk back to my car.
For the day, I caught 55 trout, 54 wild browns and 1 rainbow, all on spinners.