Friday, August 30, 2013

Don't Know Unless You Go

As any good fly fisher, kayaker, tuber or other river user knows, you check the stream gages before you head out for a day on the water.  Some days you look at those gages and you stay home, some days you look at those gages, grumble something to those around you who marginally understand and go anyway.  
I had last Friday off.  I was excited to escape my desk for the day and instead be out on a river.  But, Thursday night a peek at the gages made my heart sink, storms had rolled through, and flows were up in the last few hours.  By the time I got up in the morning, flows were about 50 percent higher than the morning before.  I grumbled.  Those close to me didn't grasp my disappointment. 
I still went and was glad I did.

The stream was just as it should have been.  The flows on my chosen stretch were not up, the sun was shining and the fish were eating.  Cutty's again, but this time around they were happier to eat a beadhead pheasant tail dead drifted past them than come to the surface.  I did hook a few on an adams and then an elk hair caddis, but more often than not they wanted a nymph.  It is getting a bit cooler at the higher elevations, so maybe there aren't as many bugs on the water, although there seemed to be plenty around.  Caddis, flying ants, small and big stoneflies, and, of course mosquitos.

A quiet day on the creek was just what I needed.  I didn't see anyone else out there, probably because of the stream gage information and the rain that was forecast for the afternoon.  And it did rain.  Just a bit lower in the drainage.  The creek downstream was chocolate milk as I drove home in the afternoon and for the next few days.  If I hadn't gotten out, I would have never known that up high the cutty's and the river were unaware of the turbulence below them.  Which is how I felt being in the woods, not worrying about anything else.

I love fishing for cutty's and cutbows and this small creek represents the full range of the interminglings of rainbow and cutthroat trout.  Although you don't see rainbows this high in the drainage, their genetic material has definitely made its way upstream against the flow.  Even if the fish are not pure cutthroats, they are still beautiful and still typically take flies with the same innocence of a full cutthroat.  Being just picky enough to make it interesting and make you think you know it all when you find the fly that results in some consistent strikes.
After a good day on the water, a nice cold beer hit the spot as the rain started to pick up.  And as I said, I'm a sucker for a donut which was enjoyed on the water as well.  I know I should be eating better, but too bad.

Of course this weekend will be a little more crowded wherever I end up, I plan to hit a trail somewhere and try my luck with another high country lake full of cutty's.  I am planning on getting up early and exploring somewhere I have never been before.

Have a Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone and be safe out there.