Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fourth Blue

My past week or so has made up in full for my lack of fishing. Chucking most of responsibility to the wind, and not shedding a tear to see it temporarily blown out of reach, I got on four blue ribbon waters in six days. Not bad. Two of those waters were new to me, something I always enjoy. The freshness of the water, the fish, the scenery has a way of washing clean expectations and returning me to the core of why I am infatuated with fishing.

I ventured out this time, not solo as had been the case on the other three trips, but with a fishing buddy I don't get to fish with often enough. Of course, no fishing buddy--if he is a true buddy on the water--can ever be fished with enough. I am fortunate to have a great set of fellas that are as blown-out as me about fly fishing and all thing related. Matt called me up a few days prior aching for some water to blood his new 3wt TXL and Hardy Flyweight on. I convinced him that some skinny, new blue ribbon water with wild trout would be a fitting setting for such a task.

The day was supposed to be one of the coldest yet with the temps never rising out of the 20s. Arriving on the scene, we were delighted to find that while the weather was cold, and the predictions were correct--we were comfortable. I went without my sweater and gloves; Matt chucked his new gloves, too. The air was warmed nicely by the sun, but the water was still chilly in the mid-40's. Warm, fed, coffeed and ready to get some wildies on our line, we quickly came up with a plan of attack that consisted of a stealthly approach to the springs upstream.

Not quite as picturesque as Eleven Point, but still beautiful in its own wintery way, we waded quickly up, stopping every so often to fish a promising looking hole or seam. We figured we'd be nymphing and midging most of the day, so we both started off with dries for fun. I worked down through the water, searching each layer beginning with a #20 Bob's Fly. No action up top (except for some chub and shiners) moved me down to a Hares Ear and finally to a BH'ed soft hackle.

When the sun got high enough to light the water, I think the buggy action really kicked into gear beneath the surface. Matt had great success with a Brassy hung below a #12 Stim, blooding that Sage like a champ on wild rainbows. Doesn't get any better than that!!

My little soft hackle, swinging across and down, got pounded most of the time as it began to rise through the column at the end of the drift. I found that throwing it at the head of a deep pool and letting it sink and drift through it would usually result it a fish on at the tail of it. I had a lot of fun with this, taking 3-4 little McClouds out of each pool.

Whoever wants to write a book about a prototypical tight, skinny spring stream with wild trout--this is your subject water. It was a challenge. Trees overhung both sides of the bank for most of the run, and getting into a position for a good long backcast or tall steeple cast was difficult. I'm still terrible at rolling, but this stream taught me I need to get back on learning that one. The fish were spooky, as I'd heard rumored, and to get on them required either a long (and I mean LONG) upstream cast or an over-and-down search through a deep pool. There were some absolutely delicious looking pools, too.

No huge fish were caught, but I'd like to meet the guy who'd care (actually, no I wouldn't--he already sounds like a tool). Any chance to hold a wild trout in the Missouri Ozarks is a chance to go back in time. I don't think the fish know they're anything special, after all, all we did was to simply interrupt their day of eating and swimming (look at the belly on the one just above!). They don't know they're not stockers, or that they give guys like me occasion to laugh and smile.

I'll never be a hardcore, trophy fly fisherman. I'll never fill this blog with photos of massive hero fish. I don't carry a ruler. You'll never see me holding up a fish with a Boga. Sure, I enjoy big fish; they're fun. What I live for, though, is the clash of exotic and domestic...where I am the exotic surrounded by the domestic. When that happens, even just a little, well, does it really matter what number a fish reaches on a stick of wood? No sir and no ma'am, it does not. This little stream gave me another chance to experience the clash, and it was wonderful!

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