I fished the next-to-last day of 2009, and because I left the digital camera at home, had to make due with my cell phone camera – which does not take stellar pictures. Still, when you make like a Russian icebreaker so you can get to the moving water (where the BWOs are), then you’re not dealing with challenging subject matter:

Upper Sacramento River icing over

I predict Orvis will release special "Icebreaker Waders" in the Fall of 2010

In that sense, my readers are lucky I only caught two trout in the 13″-14″ range; you’re not being subjected to really poor quality photos of average-sized trout (I simply didn’t take them).

The BWO hatch was heavy. The number of rising trout was few.

You don’t have to be a math geek to hate ratios like that.

It was a day I was glad I was alone – not forced to play nice with another fly fisherman (even a friend). I was able to chase the sporadically rising trout up and down the run, ultimately working pretty hard for my shot at four fish.

The trout, it seems, weren’t cooperating. Despite a strong hatch, one or two would rise sporadically for five minutes, and then stop (usually about the time you slow-waded your way into casting range).

A lesser, whinier fly fishermen would choose that moment to anthropomorphize the trout. “They’re doing it on purpose,” he’d say. “They stop rising when I get within casting distance, and probably start giggling hysterically with their damned trout friends while flipping me the middle fin.”

Like I said, a whiny fly fisherman might do that.

For sure I didn’t.

And yes, some days are like that. Some days you’re happy to share the fish, so when your buddy catches one while you stand to the side, it’s like you caught it yourself.

Other days, well… to hell with everyone else. I need a trout.

The obligatory Big Fish Story of the Day goes thusly; I drifted an #18 Quigley Cripple (Official Cripple of the Trout Underground) a long ways downstream, a nice fish ate it, I lifted the rod, and nothing happened.

Nothing.

That, my dear Undergrounders, is the kind of moment us effette, bamboo-waving dry fly fishermen live for.

Unfortunately, when something did happen, it involved two shakes of a big, big trout head, and the hook popped out.

Thus, one of the frailties of a downstream presentation rears its ugly head.

Sometimes the long, downstream drift is the best way catch trout on tough water, but the resulting upstream hookset means a lot of lost fish (more proof of an ironic – if not vengeful – god).

It was grey and lightly misting all day, and I was damned warm wearing my Micro Puff jacket (Patagonia). It’s an ultralight, highly packable jacket that deserves its own post (which it will get soon).

I’m largely old-fashion when it comes to gear, happily cruising along with slower fly rods non-cutting edge fly patterns, but I draw the line at being cold, and some of the latest cold-weather gear is startling stuff.

More to come on that.

See you (warm and dry) on the river, Tom Chandler.