The Rats Nest

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taking Another Drive To A Favorite River....

Well it's August, and as you all know, August for the trout fisherman can be a tough month, unless you have a cold tail water to practice your craft.  Living within 10 minutes of a pretty darn good one, I often take it for granted, and somehow always long to drive to a much nicer one about 3 hours west of my locale.  Maybe it's the wild fish, maybe it's the true western feel, the hatches, the ability to fish via drift boat, whatever it seems to be, I find myself willingly to make the drive several times a year to this great destination, in hopes of fooling some of the larger inhabitants that call this watershed home.

Tail water Fog
With water levels up, the boat was in tow and would get some serious use over the course of a four day excursion.  My fishing partner and close friend Mike, still had to work in the middle of our plans so we squeezed in some friendly fishing with a day on the water for myself solo.    Day one started out late, as I had a 6 hour drive from Cape Cod with the family to the house, gather up the gear and boat, drive to Pennsylvania to Mike's house then another hour north to our destination.  So it was a long day behind the wheel and we arrived at the waters edge around 7:00 PM for a float of sorts.  Low lying fog over the water greeted us as was expected with water temperatures in the high 40's on a day that was hazy, hot and humid with air temperatures touching the 90 degree mark.  There were several fish working the surface as we slipped the boat in, some on olives, others chowing the steady train of sulfurs that were descending down the water column.  To hell with fine tippets and small flies, we rigged up a couple of streamer rods with flies about 4-6 inches long and began launching.

20 + Incher Courtesy of Mike

As darkness fell we stuck a fair number of what we consider cookie cutter fish for this system, from about 18-21 inches on average.  The integrated sinking lines went back in the boat bags and out came the aggressive floating lines and surface patterns, our favorite type of fishing under the cover of darkness.  All things started out with a bang, I got completely hammered on by a fish on the second or third cast.  So much so that the rod was literally pulled out of my hand and almost went into the drink.  I was taken by surprise to say the least.  A minute later and a beautiful specimen stretching the tape to 22 inches was in hand.  A nice way to start out a night, and we had some steady action similar to this for the next hour or so before we pushed on to new water.  With the new water, a change in our success.  Heavy levels of fog made navigating the water very difficult. 

22 Inch Darkness Brown
As the night wore on we stuck some pretty nice fish, not the monsters we were after but some pretty respectable fish to say the least.  A few very violent pulls with some extra aggressive head shakes and line runs ended up with a few missed opportunities as the line fell slack on what seemed like a few much better fish, but sometimes that's the name of the game.  In the middle of our night time excursion, we got smashed by a pretty good thunderstorm with quite the light show.  A little rain never hurt anybody, but poor Mike left his raincoat in the truck.  We waited out the rain, bailed the boat out and sat patiently for the sun to come up.  After about an inch and a half of rain in a 30 minute squall, Mike soaked but not cold as the air was warm, we thought we would finish our initial trip off with some daybreak streamer fishing.  With about 3 miles of river to our take out we threw the 150's back on and began throwing.  The first mile we didn't get so much as a bump, but then right at 6:20 Mike struck first blood as a decent brown turned itself inside out and inhaled his bird fur streamer.   It was kind of comical as I was breaking his stones profusely as he covered about 3/4 of a mile of water without so
Mike's First Streamer Victim

20 Inch Male Brown
much as a take. Then "BANG", one fish gator rolled his fly and within seconds was in the boat for a quick photo op.  For the next 40 minutes we railroaded browns back and forth, switching from rower to caster several times.  One of the more memorable fish came at the instant my dart hit the water, as it landed about an inch from the shore the surface exploded with a large swirl and the fight was on, and it ended up being one of the better fish of our morning.  After covering the last mile of water the rose up from the fog, the air temps became more oppressive and the streamer bite subsided.  We pulled out of the river around 8:30 AM, hit Mickey-D's for the breakfast of champions and a coffee for the drive back to Mike's house, literally holding my eyes open with fingers as I had been up for an unprecedented 27 1/2 hours.  I haven't done that in a while, as my motto of "Sleep when you're dead" rang true today. 

Later that day, like around 5:30 PM or so we choked down a nice Diablo Shrimp dinner, courtesy of yours truly and then made the lazy hike back to the river.  Figuring we would get a few hours of nymphing in before darkness fell we rigged up and hit a favorite haunt.  2nd cast with my Echo 11' 4 weight and a rainbow was attached, then "SNAP", the rod broke.  The fish takes off, and the upper third of my rod is lying snapped in the drink.  GOOD TIMES!  Funny thing is the blank broke in the exact spot as the 3 weight that snapped about a week prior.  Must have been a blemish from the factory as this was the first time this particular rod was pulled from the tube.  So now I'm down two Shadows in less than a week, no worries they are on their way to the factory for repair, and from what they informed me at the plant, only 5 have been returned out of over 400 sold, hopefully this is just a fluke. 
Mike With A Nice Streamer Brown

A few small one's and then darkness fell and we took a few decent fish, none of which came to net.  We were both beat and burned ourselves out pretty good from the night prior so we made the command decision to call it a day and head home.  For some reason we didn't feel up to spending the night out chasing brutes in the cover of darkness this year.  Both Mike and I have taken some pretty impressive fish at night over the years together, but for some reason we just couldn't get motivated enough to take part in the festivities this evening.  The next day I ventured out solo, as my fishing partner had to work, and the guy who was supposed to come and float for the day had to do the same.  I got a late start, about 11:00 AM to be perfectly honest it was OK.  I met two guys at my put in that seemed to be of the same fabric as myself in terms of fishing.  Tom and Pete were lounging on the banks of the river after a first light streamer float and admired one of my streamers hanging on the fly patch.  A few stories, an exchange of some patterns and info and another fishing connection was made.  It is really amazing how many quality people I have met over the years stream side, if you guys are reading this, we will hit that water sometime in the near future.

Now back to the fishing.  Well, it was an interesting day to say the least.  Easily 25-30 mph sustaining winds with trees creaking and buckling from the breeze.  It didn't stop the fish from feeding as I basically spent my day indicator nymphing the riffles either from boat, or anchor up get out and attack.  I didn't get any pictures as I was flying solo and am not a big fan of the timed solo fish shot as it just equates to more time for a fish to be out of the water.  I think when all was said and done, about 2 or 3 dozen fish came to net that day.  From large to small, the biggest of which was a 23 inch hook jawed male that literally crushed a crane fly larva and provided a funny story.  So here I am fishing a great riffle from the boat, I hook this fish and he jumps instantly, and peels a good amount of line.  The riffle I am fishing is pretty heavy water and from my position I risk losing the fish as I am putting way too much pressure on him.  I seat the rod in between my knees, pull the anchor and head to the shore.  An old timer who owns a house right on the bank witnesses all of this and commends my efforts.  I jump out, boat net in hand and grab the beast.  The gentleman kindly offers to snap a picture of the beauty for me so I pitch him my camera.  Only problem is the battery is dead.......  Oh well, better luck next time.

Size 16 Cahill
The other side of the story is there were these two guys dunking worms across the river who were floating in a red canoe chasing me down the river all day.  They were catching their fair share mind you, which is fine by me.  What troubled me the most was these two guys were culling the fish as they both had a nylon stringer hanging out of either side of the canoe.  After about the 4th or 5th fish that had been caught, rope through the gills, and then held on the line for  a while before being replaced by another fish, I finally snapped and demoralized the two guys.  No response mind you, but the gentleman on his porch knew of these two guys well as he said he sees them regularly, hence the binoculars attentively watching these two like a hawk.  The only saving grace to the episode was landing the fish in front of these two, as I had booted an easy 2 foot brown earlier on a riffle up river.  I had no dukes with this fish as it went completely psycho on the hookup and launched out of the water giving us all an eye full.   It really is sad to see such a blatant disregard to the wonderful fish that this particular river has to offer.  As the day wore on I witnessed several olives, cahills and sulfurs float down the river, and even in some blustery conditions fish still broke the surface on occasion to take part in the dinner fare.  I pulled out of the river at a good time, making my way back to Mike's house for about 8:30 and finished off the rest of leftovers from the night prior.

18 Inch Bow

18 Inch Brown
So it was our last day, me, having to slide out a day early, and promising my wife I would be home in the afternoon I said let's do a first light float, chuck some streamers and be off the water by noon.  Mike was on board and we got the boat in the water at 6:00 AM on the nose.  Great, only two other boats had the same idea  &$&%$**@#*&!!!!!!  Well we played second fiddle down the river all morning, (it was Saturday mind you), and the streamer bite was non existent.  We resorted to nymphs again and beat up a fair amount of nice fish. 
At the end of our float we bumped into a good friend and guide Jeff who was out looking for a few Trico sippers before an afternoon guide trip.  It was nice to spend a few days on a favorite tail water, one I can never get sick of or get enough of.

The one thing I will say, this particular river takes on a whole new meaning when it has water in it, and is in my opinion the top of the food chain for quality trout fishing in our neck of the woods....


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