Returning to a favorite alpine stream after eight months away is a little like Christmas when you’re a kid; there’s a slim chance it’ll suck, but even though you don’t know exactly how the happiness will manifest, odds are you’re going to be happy.

Tom Chandler fly fishing a small stream

That's me! (image by Older Bro)

And we were happy.

Older Bro and I parked my 200,000 mile Bronco (a truck guaranteed to draw the bare minimum of attention from thieves) and walked the extra mile to the creek.

And for the first five minutes, not much happened.

Then it did.

Two fish here. One there. Three from that run.

Now repeat for many hours (it slowed a little around 1:00, then came back to life about 2:30).

A small stream brown trout

One of Older Bro's victims (image by Older Bro)

And despite the lack of practice, I felt sharp. The fly dropped where I wanted it and drifts weren’t the problem.

The problem was keeping the Beetle Bug floating after repeated maulings.

It was, frankly, the kind of problem that plagues me too rarely.

It wasn’t stupidly easy, but the trout were there, they were looking up and hungry, and yes — after two excellent water years, the average brown trout was just noticeably bigger than in prior years.

In the past, I’d suggest 8″ was an average for this stream. This time it was more like 9″, and I caught four in the 12″ range (no, when the fishing’s that good, I don’t measure).

Those are big trout in this stream.

Brown Trout spots

Why are they this stunning? We are faded ghosts by comparison.

And if you haven’t already suffered enough, I’ll express my appreciation for the concepts of perfect weather and stunning lack of mosquitoes (the bugs can be brutal up there), both of which were in attendance.

Frankly, all we lacked was a beer chopper crewed by the Swedish Bikini Team. (Older Bro promised to work on that for the next trip.)

The Gear

I fished my 8.5′ 4wt Diamondglass, a rod only found lacking under the windiest of conditions, though I had the 8′ 5wt Beasley Leonard 50DF sitting in the truck.

Older Bro fished an 8.5′ 3wt Orvis Superfine Touch that is an impressive fishing tool, though it offers just a skoosch less feedback than the truly impressive 8′ 4wt Superfine Touch.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that a 7.5′ leader is just a hair long for these kinds of streams (lots of trees and brush on land and downed timber in the water); after 15 minutes I cut mine to 6’9″ and suddenly I was the Slightly Overplump God Of Fly Fishing Casting Accuracy.

I’m heading back soon, though the mosquitoes have no doubt noticed the nice weather. Let’s hope I avoid a repeat of my last mosquito nightmare, and that on this small stream, Christmas comes at least twice a year.

A brown trout

"Hey you kids, get offa my stream!"