A Good Day in Mid-May
I had not fished since the first weekend of the month, so I looked forward to this weekend and the chance to fish. However, with all the rain, I knew that finding a place with reasonable stream levels would be a challenge. My first choice was a favorite high gradient freestoner, but it was at a high level and I knew that fishing it would be difficult at best. I chose to visit a very popular stream where I’ve had many good days. Being a Saturday in May, I expected to have company.
I parked my car, assembled my gear and walked in. It took about five minutes to catch my first trout, a 9 ½ inch wild brown. My second trout followed in short order, a 7 ½ inch wild brown. As I fished through a very deep slow section, I picked up 9 more trout, ranging from 6 to 9 ½ inches. I moved above the slow stretch. As I walked through a field, I wondered how many deer fawns were concealed in the tall grass. When I waded back in, I was surprised that I didn’t get so much as a follow in three spots that almost always produce a trout or five.[IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.huntingpa.com/forums/images/Huntingpa_toucan/smilies/tango_face_wink.png[/IMG] My guess was that someone had moved in front of me. As I moved upstream, I only caught one 7 ½ incher from heavy cover before I saw movement along the bank in the form of another fisherman. I waded out and walked upstream a long distance before wading back in.
My second angling hour started with a nice 11 ½ inch brown. It was followed in short order by a 6 ½ incher, a 10 incher and a 7 ½ incher. I had a lot of follows and short strikes as well. I caught 11 more trout in that hour, highlighted by a dancing 12 inch wild brown.
12 inch brown
The action really picked up in angling hour # 3. I caught four trout in a six cast stretch to start the hour, which included another 12 incher. After losing two trout, I caught four trout in five casts. Before I knew it, I had reached the end of my third angling hour. It produced 20 trout, along with 3 lost trout.
I very often lose a lot of trout when fishing that stream, as there are a lot of small trout, which are difficult to hook, and their propensity to jump results in a lot of fish throwing the hook. To that point, I had only lost five trout, which I considered a low number for the number of trout I had caught. I remember thinking that maybe I wouldn’t lose a lot of trout on the day. Apparently, the trout heard my thought and started throwing the hooks with regularity. Most were very small, and all but one threw the hook after clearing the water. I caught eight trout in the first 45 minutes of the hour. When I again fished through a promising looking stretch with no action, I figured that I had caught up with the angler I had seen walk by in the previous hour. When I rounded a bend, I saw him. He was headed back to his car, but we talked for a few minutes. He told me that he had been fishing dry flies all morning and had only seen one rise. I told him I hadn’t seen any rises and only saw a couple of caddis flies come off. He told me that he had taken several trout using ant patterns. He asked if I was using treble hooks on my spinners and I told him that I often cut off the third hook and showed him I was only using double hooks. He nodded and we talked a little about the stream before we wished each other luck and he left.
A little further upstream, I arrived at a spot where I had caught my first big trout of the year the previous month, a 20 ½ inch wild brown. I decided to try a small plug, figuring that the big trout wouldn’t hit a spinner again so soon. I rarely take big trout from the same spot in consecutive outings. I had tried a plug briefly earlier in the day with no action. On the first cast, a small brown smashed the plug then took to the air and spit it out. On the next cast, a 10 incher blasted the plug but this time the hooks held. It was my first trout of the year caught on a plug. Two casts later, another trout struck. I set the hook and the trout dove deep. I thought, “Could it be, the same hog that I caught before?”
Well, it wasn’t. Shortly into the fight, I knew it was a good trout, but it wasn’t a 20 incher. The question was, would it achieve hog status? As I brought him to hand, I figured it was going to be just short. He measured 15 ½ inches, a very nice trout. I fished that stretch for another 15 minutes before I decided to head back to my car and get some lunch and take a short rest.
15 1/2 inch brown trout
After taking a break and eating my lunch, I headed for an upstream stretch I knew well. I expected to encounter several anglers, but when I walked downstream, I surprisingly saw no fishermen. I saw a goose with two goslings, the first little ones I had seen this year. Normally by this time, I’ve seen a lot of them. The first hour after I resumed fishing produced 12 trout and 4 lost fish. The trout ranged from 6 to 10 ½ inches.
A 5 1/2 inch river monster[IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.huntingpa.com/forums/images/Huntingpa_toucan/smilies/tango_face_grin.png[/IMG]
The next hour proved to me that no one had fished that stretch earlier in the day. I caught 21 trout, my highest hour of the day to that point. The wild browns were between 6 ½ and 10 inches. I continued, though my back had really tightened up. Halfway through the hour, I released my 100th trout of the day, a feisty 7 incher. I caught 10 more trout the remainder of the hour, making it my second straight hour where I had caught at least 20 trout. The biggest trout of the hour were two 11 inchers.
I considered leaving but it’s difficult to leave when the action is so good. I lost 3 straight trout to start the hour, and whiffed on a hookset on a nice fish, a sign that I was getting tired. I told myself I’d fish for about another 15 minutes; a half hour at the most. After that, I caught 7 trout in the next 15 minutes. I saw a good looking spot, and figured I’d fish that spot and then quit. My first cast to that spot resulted in an explosive hit. The trout was a 15 inch beauty and I decided that maybe I’d fish a little longer.
15 inch brown
I caught 9 more trout in the remaining time I fished. I had two more hours of daylight left and I knew that I could have caught a lot more trout, but my back was really bothering me, and I still had a lengthy walk back to my car, so I decided I’d had enough. On the way back to the car, I saw a hog brown next to a log jam that had a fish protruding from its mouth.
I ended up doing much better than expected. I caught 127 wild brown trout in 8 ½ hours of fishing. I had 26 trout throw the hook, almost all due to aerial maneuvers. The size breakdown was as follows:
7-10 inches: 78
10-15 inches: 22
15 – 16 inches: 2
It was only my 6th outing of the year and by far the most successful (and the longest). According to my phone I walked 5.6 miles.
I hope the warmer forecast this week drops the stream levels.