Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last Few Outings

I haven't blogged much lately; the reason is excusable I hope--I've been doing too much fishing! I had a few frustrating days on the stream and some amazing ones. Chris and I got out to a local wild trout stream again, and a few days later the whole gang of Chris, Ronnie and me returned to it. Here are some photos from the outings....

Chris showed his amazing talents at fishing soft hackles and nymphs in the riffles, schooling me three-to-one on fish.

Chris, Ronnie and I fished until dark and waded back by the half-moon light. Thankfully, we had been here so often that we knew the stream-bed well enough to wade back with flashlights.

Dark, but easy wading. We were hoping for an evening hatch that never came, but it was still a worthwhile trip.

A day or so later, Chris and I headed to the Current River searching for Browns (that we didn't find!). Bill, this photo is for you--this is my normal rig: A Konic 1.5 with GPX 3DTF and a Sage ZXL 8'6" 3wt. I typically run a 6' furled leader and a few feet of 5x or 6x tippet.

While we didn't get any Browns, I caught some very interesting non-trout fish. I caught this hero of a little shiner in a riffle. Notice he has only one eye.

I wondered about the story behind the eye: was it an injury? Did he narrowly escape death from a bird or fisherman? Was he born like this? I returned him to the water feeling both sorry for and proud of him for surviving life.

No Browns, but we did catch a number of fine rainbows in the 10-15" range.

About mid-morning, we noticed a moderate hatch of PMDs and these day-saving caddis. We had been fishing nymphs when the first emergers appeared, and had success with those. Once the caddis hatch hit full-swing, we started really catching fish on EHCs.

Here's another interesting fish. I think its a chub of some sort, maybe a Creek Chub in spawning colors? I call them "Lipstick Chubs" for obvious reasons; they were really colorful in any case. The streams hold so many interesting, beautiful fish!

After being up 30+ hours because of work, I decided to go fishing instead of going home to bed. It was a good call (except for the brief moment that I fell asleep on the highway driving home...that was no good). I was fishing at a Conservation Area lake that had been stocked with trout and was rewarded with this fella'.

I caught him on my third cast, on a mohair leech. Leaving the car, I left my net thinking I wouldn't need it. Well, I did. I had tied on 5x tippet thinking that would be alright too; that is what I always use first and adjust from there either to 6x or 4x depending on conditions. So, 8 minutes of battling this fish on 5x had me tired and it had him tired enough to hand-land.

I was thinking after about 5 or 6 minutes that if I couldn't land him soon I should break him off to avoid exhausting him. Thankfully there was enough of a break in the action (and not my tippet) to scoop the beast from the water for some quick photography. I field-estimated him at 22" and by that length is somewhere between 4 and 5 pounds. His kyped jaw held some pretty gnarly teeth, one of which surprised me and connected with my thumb as I took the fly out. I wanted to keep him out for hours to look at him, to marvel at him--but I had to rush him back to the water. I am so thankful for the pictures I took, though.

The most tense and stressful part of the fight wasn't the actual fight, but the release. I'm always careful to revive fish that I fight hard, and this was no different. I cradled him in clean water near the top where the oxygen is highest and watched his mouth pump water over his gills. Minutes passed and he was still a little tipsy, so I kept holding him upright. I was getting worried about him after a few more minutes, and shifted him to new water a few inches over. When I did, he pulled away from my hand and confidently swam straight and true back to the deep water. Seeing that gave me more of a sense of success than when I first held him; it's almost impossible not to gain a load of respect for a fish like this, and I would have hated to have him die because of my forgetfulness of my net.

My initial intent for going to that lake that morning was to meet a guy to sell my TFO Finesse. Talking with him before I started fishing, I learned that this guy had been caught before, about a week earlier by the buyer's friend. I contacted him afterward and he sent some photos from that catch. This photo was one of those, and it shows the very recognizable lower jaw. He had fattened up considerably in the week between this catch and mine, which was fun to see. I'm a little sad to think about the day that this lake is no longer C&R in a few weeks--this guy deserves to be in the water dominating! He certainly has already brought a lot of joy to at least 2 fishermen; I was lucky enough to be one of them.


  1. Wonderful post! Thanks for taking me along even if only in words and pictures. That is one beautiful big fish from the lake. Great job with the release also.

  2. Will
    That set-up with the Konic and Sage looks awesome, I will have some doing to convince my wife to go for that at this time. I just got a Redington 2/3 wt. reel to go with my TFO 7 1/2 ft. rod so I may have to wait on the Sage. Those trout are marked beautiful check out the brush i have marked on smith for the spring. It is under the post structure. I too don't do a lot of blogging in the winter. Really enjoyed the post.

  3. Awesome fish! And it sounded like a great fight.

  4. Thanks everyone for reading and taking the time to comment; I always really do appreciate it. It's great motivation to keep writing and posting knowing that people really do read these things!

    Mel, ending a fight like that as friends is the beauty of C&R fishing. I love releasing big fish!

    Bill, I only fish that Sage because I got a screaming deal on it. I'd love to see photos and hear more about your thoughts on your Drift. That will likely be the next reel I buy. I am ready for Smith and your hyper-mapped structure!!

    Matt, it was a good fight, but very calm really. I was amazed at the power of him--just a few relaxed swishes of his tail and he was pulling line like mad. Nothing frantic about it; he was definitely in control for the first half of the fight. He almost won a few times.

  5. Fin, thank you! It really was a fun catch, especially on the 3wt. Very unexpected. Thanks for reading and commenting!!