Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fly Fishing for January Trout...

If you know where to drive and more importantly where to stop, you might get lucky and find yourself on a desert stream standing in a sunbeam with a hatch popping and no wind blowing and hungry trout all about. I got lucky but that's probably just because yesterday was my birthday and mother earth felt like celebrating right along with me.

I left Boise today tired of the fog-smog and headed out and up a bit and over some too, to my favorite little river in sage brush country where I guessed the sun might be shining. Spring always springs early there it seems and today was no exception. Shoulder-warming temperatures in the mid 40's, bright sun and only a whisper of a breeze quickly faded any memories of dreary Boise sacked by inversion.
A tasty flat bread breakfast sandwich digested as I drove east into the sun, past cattle ranches and dairies, under train tracks, over canals, down dirt roads and through a gate or two. A short walk to the waters edge brought a cheeky smile to my face as I quickly saw that here and there trout were feeding at the surface especially in tails and riffles. "Hot damn" I hooted to myself. No wonder my casting arm was itchy and achy when I woke up this morning.  Much like a divining rode seeks water, my arm it seems seeks fish. The hatch was on! Little gray midges by the thousands drifted by, struggling to free themselves from their underwater exoskeleton bathing suits. I snapped a few photos and a video but they do no justice to the frenzy of molting insects struggling to get free and join their friends in the whirling cloud around my head.
I quickly tied on some 5X tippet and began attaching size 18 and 20 midge and emerger patterns. The fish were in a steady feeding rhythm and lined up like cows in a feed lot, several fish wide and deep in the best troughs. I was so busy enjoying the whole entomological event that I hadn't even made a cast. I stopped my camera work chuckled to myself about how funny I must look with my fly rod pinned between my knees, camera in hand, head down and about a foot off the water.  Whether it was from poor selection or the sheer number of other food choices, I could not entice a fish up for the life of me. So I changed tactics and tied on a pheasant tail and trailed it with a silver bead headed zebra, which drifted down nicely in the 3 feet of slowing tail water I was targeting.
"Happy Birthday me!" I chirped as my indicator was dunked on the second drift and began zipping up stream. I'd made a pretty easy move in the chess game of fisherman versus fish; stick the nymph right in the trout's nose just like it was floating off the bottom, helpless and ready to eat.  If something works, repeat it. I did and one chunky rainbow after another tugged my line down and over and across some to.

After a while I got adventurous and tied on a small crayfish pattern that I had picked up at the BVFF expo. It looked like a winner the moment I spied it and the biggest trout of the day, about 17 inches, made a go at it and ended up in my net. "Smile for the camera!" I will try to find out what this crayfish pattern is called but in general it is slightly smaller than most, with a sturdy foam-like body and less flamboyant colors.