After 5 consecutive fishless outings the stars aligned and a few nice trout found there way into my net. Friday presented some pretty challenging conditions I had to adapt to. The river I was fishing was as low and clear as I have ever seen it. It is usually at a decent flow in the winter with enough turbidity to allow the angler to get pretty close to holding water but not so turbid as to make flies difficult to see.
I spent the first several hours exploring and covering water that is usually productive with no luck. Some of the usual runs were so shallow that they were clearly void of fish. This fishery in the winter is largely made up of lake run fish that come up from the reservoir. When flows get challenging they just vacate and head back to the safety of the reservoir. This makes the system very hit or miss. They seem to be around in large numbers or none at all with very few in between days. The behavior and even the appearance of these trout remind me of steelhead. Chrome bright with a hint of blush and minimal spotting. The occasional colorful fish shows up but they mostly resemble their sea run counterparts.
So after several fishless hours I changed tactics. Fishing with the Tenkarabum TB40 I set up 13′ of 8lb kastking flourokote line, a roughly 16″ sighter of orange and white and 5′ of 6x to the dropper and another 18′ to the point fly. The dropper varied throughout the day from a selection of small bead head nymphs and the point fly stayed a killer bug. Until today I had never caught anything on a killer bug and had no confidence in the fly. However you can hardly research tenkara without seeing its constant praise and hearing about the magic of shetland spindrift oyster color yarn. It was pretty much my only pattern without a bead and in the low clear water I wanted to pair something less flashy with the bead heads. The result was that every single fish hooked and/or landed on the day fell victim to the killer bug. I’m starting to believe the hype.
Occasionally I will find pods of smaller trout on this river and brought along my brand new dragontail foxfire fiberglass rod to try if I the opportunity presented itself. At one point the action slowed down and I presumed I’d pretty much had all the success I would have so I took the rig off the tb40 and put it on the foxifre. I was surprised that while far from optimal the little glass rod could cast this 20′ long set up. I was surprised again when a 17″ trout nailed my killer bug. Now this rod is designed for small streams, short lines and smaller fish but I was very impressed with how it handled the big rainbow. With the rod flexing all the way to the handle I put the pressure on and never felt like the rod was in any danger of breaking. I like to land fish quickly and not screw around letting themselves over exert. I’d rather loose a fish then spend to long trying to land it. With the foxfire I brought the fish to net quickly. It was a blast feeling the flex of that rod though! I’ll do a write-up on the foxfire once I am able to use it under “normal” small stream circumstances more.
So all told a wonderful outing. It’s always satisfying to put in the work, figure out the solution and have success especially after such a long fishless spell. Winter has been tough in more ways than one this year and I am eager for the spring days to arrive. This day was enough to help keep the spirits up and the optimism flowing.