Traditionally my early season trout river fishing begins on the nymph, due to the lack of rising trout, but having caught on the surface last week, I decided to start on the dry fly for my next session on the local syndicate water. Levels were down slightly on the previous week, with a tinge of colour, following recent rain, but the air temperature was still low and I was not hopeful, as I viewed the barren surface of the river on my approach. Within a hundred yards, my attitude had changed, an audible plop and the spreading rings from a rise in a tree covered pool, instantly gained my attention.
I gave the pool a wide berth and got down into the river downstream, wading up through the shallows, eyes glued to the surface for more rises and possible food sources. A few grannoms were scudding around, but nothing appeared to be lifting off the surface, so last week’s successful choice, an elk hair Grannom Emerger was tied on. Noisy rises usually come from fish deep down and this was confirmed by a splashing swirl half way up the pool in three feet of water, away from where I’d spotted the first rise. Two trout?
Getting into a position where I could make a cast was a challenge, with trees behind me and overhanging the right hand bank, it was a case of side cast, or nothing. In parrot cages like this one, even my seven foot rod is too long, but another rise gave away it’s position only ten feet upstream. I hadn’t scared it off with my wading and also no fly on the surface when it took, said it was probably a grannom caddis nymph providing dinner. Several false casts later, the fly landed untidily to the left of the target, drifted for a second, before a small trout torpedoed up from the gravel and turned, to be hooked by a reaction side strike. These small wild fish fight hard in this fast flowing river and it dived back into the pool, then escaped into the broken water below, keeping the fish on and the rod tip out of the branches demanding special attention.
Over the many years that this small river has been fished for trout along its seven mile length, various strains of brown trout have been introduced and this is an example of many silver fish, with just a flash of gold on the flanks, that populate our stretch. With a quick photo and an upstream release, I continued downstream looking for more rising trout and stopped at the small weir, which has been almost washed away by the winter floods, creating new territory to explore with the fly.
Sitting on the bank I could cover most of the pool with the buoyant emerger, an upstream wind helping with a light presentation without too much line drag. I heard the take before I saw it among the ripples across from me, in an area where I thought I’d seen a rise earlier, my rod bending into a small brown, that boiled on the surface over a sand bar, then made off across the pool. Eventually it dropped down, tumbling, into the shallows where I swept it into the net.
Another silvery brownie. Fun to catch and full of vigour. I now trekked downstream to try another area modified by the floods, getting in the river at the side of a cattle bridge and wading up, casting blind as I went, working my way toward another rise in a back eddy, where a willow outcrop had created a dog leg, a deep pool is all that remains.
A boil at the emerger in the fast water ahead of me, saw contact made and yet another ten inch wildie looking for the escape route, dropping back, rolling at my feet before coming off. The fish in the eddy had risen again and after drying off the fly and greasing the line, I made several false casts to get the range, before dropping my offering into the eddy. A dark shape appeared alongside the fly, turning a circle to inspect it, then as the fly dragged in the current, grabbed it. Too early and too late. I had been about to lift the fly off to recast, when the pound-plus brown took. A brief solid contact, followed by a swirl and it was gone. No more rises prompted a change to the nymph and chose a rubber legged, Gold Ribbed Hares Ear with a gold head, which was a legacy from my trip to Yellowstone last year.
My first cast into the faster water brought an instant response with a firm take and an on/off miss. I then prospected the rest of the pool with only a short take and reluctant to test the depth of the pool ahead, I climbed out of the river to cross the bridge and explore the upstream bank. Already satisfied with my afternoon’s fishing, I spent a few minutes fishing a deep run on a bend, but snagged the nymph in an overhanging branch. Managing to retrieve the nymph, I decided that I might not be so lucky next time, and pushed on back towards the road, stopping at the cattle drink for a few casts.
I’d tried the emerger here on the way down, as it has been a good holding spot in the past, but now it was time to cast the nymph up into the deeps between the trees and along the slack by the pipe. On one of the many passes, the bow in the line tightened and I struck into a solid fish, that bored down into the pool taking line. The fish stayed deep, but a flash of silver suggested a small rainbow, not unknown to drop down from fisheries further up. The fight continued all over the pool and was anxious, that, like some of the better fish this year, I might loose it on the last knockings, but the hook held, slipping the net under the beaten trout.
This was a fin perfect silver sided brown trout, with a purple sheen, not unlike a sea trout, 13 inches long, my nymph firmly embedded in it’s top lip. No doubt this is the daddy of many of those silver sided trout in this section of the river and I was privileged to catch it, keeping it facing upstream in my landing net, until it was ready to swim back to the depths.