My last small-stream fly fishing trip unfolded without a camera, so this, time I’m doubling up on the photographs. (See? The Underground takes care of its readers.)
The catch? I’m too busy to write a lengthy report (like last time I skipped out and ran to Stream X). Instead, I’ll hit the highlights in between the pictures.
Stream X is a small, alpine spring creek, and it’s the kind of place the enforces a certain intimacy between the fly fisherman and the trout.
It’s nicely populated with wild brown trout (and the odd rainbow & Brookie), but features rough roads and enough mosquitoes to suggest the existence of a vengeful god.
Like all small streams, the trout aren’t particularly selective, but they are damned spooky, and this – simply put – is not the best stream for a novice, but I brought my relatively new-to-fly-fishing brother there anyway (suggesting the existence of a vengeful brother, bent on payback for the emotionally scarring cherry incident of my childhood).
Unlike my last visit, the stream was running at normal levels, but the weather was eerily similar; it started raining the minute we arrived (after a lot of bouncing around on some auto-unfriendly roads), and alternated rain and sun all day.
It was also colder than I would have guessed, and once again, the Patagonia soft shell jacket proved the perfect jacket for the gig – a good lesson in packing, since I’d almost left it behind (it’s summer after all).
In fact, fingerless gloves wouldn’t have been out of place.
Welcome to the mountains.
Predictably, the early bite was slow. Equally predictably, the early scenery was stunning.
The Fishy Stuff
Later – as it warmed a bit – the bite got a little better. In the afternoon, there was even the hint of a small mayfly hatch, and (gasp) rising trout.
Almost everything you catch is a brown trout, which range wildly in coloration. Some are a burnt-butter brown while others feature a lighter, milky yellow color, and still others offer a golden metallic sheen.
Some feature slightly washed colors, others offer up bright red dotted flanks that – if found on a painting – would lead a non-fisherman to accuse the artist of artistic license.
Every once in a while, you also come across a Brook trout (the Official Char of the Trout Underground), and yes, the Underground’s veins fill with naturally produced chemical pleasure at the sight of the Brookie, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s the colors.
The Non-Trout Stuff
The first couple hours found us catching one trout each (it picked up later, and we ended up with 10 between us). Which means we had plenty of time to marvel at other things, including a couple close encounters with deer, and even a very low flying eagle.
Then there was the stuff that wouldn’t run away when you found it, including:
The Hard Facts About the Fly Fishing
The fishing itself wasn’t what most would call “technical,” though when you find yourself crawling towards a ten inch fish on your hands and knees – and trying to thread a backcast through a narrow hole behind you – the fishing’s plenty technical enough.
These aren’t world-weary tailwater trout, habituated to the presence of humans or sophisticated flies.
Instead, these are trout as god intended – hungry, aggressive, but wholly intolerant of a sloppy, lazy predator. Trout darting to safety from under your feet is a common sight, yet despite a fair number of fly changes, I settled on a simple Beetle Bug attractor for most of the day.
This time, I also toted along a rod nicely suited to the fish and the waters – an 8′ 5wt Phillipson Peerless bamboo fly rod.
It’s a rod that gets fished, and fished hard (as Bill Phillipson intended), and yes, I think little’s harder on a fly rod than a wet, brush & tree-choked environment
The fishing was slow at first, then gradually built over the day to the point where about half the really good looking spots seemed to hold a trout.
Nicely illustrating the concept of good and evil, the mosquitoes also built as the day progressed, and while I didn’t do for the garment what the Buff Babe did, I wore a Buff like a balaclava, protecting my neck and cheeks from the evil, bloodsucking Nestle bugs mosquitoes.
I may be back later this week.
See you on a small stream, Tom Chandler.