On Friday, the L&T packed up the two munchskins and headed off to Healdsburg for the weekend, leaving the Trout Underground’s Editorial Staff wholly at loose ends.
This is the first time I’ve found myself alone since I became the dad of a pair of typhoons disguised as innocent children, which means I immediately embarked on an orgy…
(The parents out there are nodding.)
Still, when you’re sleeping odd hours and trying to catch a glimpse of actual sport amid NBC’s parade of Olympic tearjerkers, it’s too easy to become a shut-in.
So Saturday I went to the shooting range and fired everything I had (after only 18 months and $1100, the Browning Superposed 20-gage shotgun came back from Browning).
On Sunday, Older Bro made an appearance, eager to drop a float tube in a backcountry lake.
Which didn’t quite happen.
The Back Story
This weekend, sitting any length of time means selected body parts no longer move (picture an unpainted steel robot facing an accelerated rusting process), and a couple hours in a float tube seemed like a choice only Torquemada would approve of.
Instead, we visited a small stream and caught pretty little trout.
The biggest went an astonishing 10″-11″ and the average was in the 8″ range. Like so many other local small streams, two years of excellent snowpack have grown a lot of slightly-bigger-than-normal trout, and only a fool (or a real headhunter) ignores that.
Fishing with Older Bro feels like a custom-fit process; he only picked up the sport a couple years ago, but he’s been a backpacker and backcountry guy from the time he was a teenager.
Life is tough in tiny backcountry streams or high mountain lakes, a fact you don’t really understand until you’ve spent some time in either.
He’s spent a lot of time in both, and the result is someone who is viscerally aware of the struggle, so he doesn’t burden his fly fishing with much in the way of expectation.
Instead of an end result, he considers the fish a nice bonus.
It’s a good attitude to hold when your big fish of the day might not be any longer than your fly rod grip.
Sadly, even extremely manly outdoorsmen like ourselves aren’t immune to 99 degree temperatures, so after baking at the bottom of a gorge until we were approaching medium rare, we hiked up to the ridge and beat feet for someplace a little cooler.
Even despite the heat, fly fishing once again functioned like a time machine; with the hike in and the difficulty getting around the stream, it felt like we were just hitting our groove when Older Bro pointed out we’d been at it for a lot of hours.
And in one of those moments that puts the sword to the “you can catch those small trout on anything,” aphorism, we caught noticeably more (and bigger) trout after noticing the Yellow Sallies (small yellow stoneflies) running around on our legs.
For the simple act of tying on a yellow fly and fooling a few more trout, I congratulated myself like I’d won a Pulitzer, proving once again that I probably shouldn’t be trusted with a fishing report (or a blog). In addition, neither one of us ended up with a working camera, so today’s pictures come courtesy my smartphone, which doesn’t peg the quality meter.
The Gear Stuff
Older Bro fished an 8.5′ 3wt Orvis Superfine Touch, an astonishingly good small-to-medium-stream fly rod. It’s not a slow taper, but it loads at reasonable small stream ranges.
Older Bro loves it.
Because a little contrast is a useful thing, I fished a Diamondglass 7′ 3wt fiberglass rod — one of the slower, softer fly rods I’ve ever used.
It’s tremendous fun on a small stream, but generates sensations remarkably like frustration whenever the wind comes up, which means all but the masochists should place it in the toy category. Short fly rods are big fun, but even on a small stream like this I like a little extra length; at the very least it’s a lot easier to manuever flies (and fish) around all the rocks.
See you standing up on the river, Tom Chandler.