The low cloud and fog didn’t offer up a lot of hope for a beautiful day as I had my morning coffee, but I really didn’t care. One way or another, I was going fishing.
There had been a few weeks where a cold snap, illness and work had all conspired to keep me house-bound. As you might expect, too much time inside a house with a very active two year old meant I was overdue for some time on the water.
Not only was I excited to get out on the water, but I was really looking forward to working on my nymphing skills. I’ve been trying to get better at nymphing since the summer, when I realized that actually learning how to do it properly would be time well spent.
I wasn’t quite ready to go when Chad, my fishing partner for the day, showed up, but I was close enough and in no time at all we were on the road.
The drive was a fairly short one straight down the highway. We were fishing closest water we could that wasn’t one of the big lakes on the valley bottom or frozen–or both, as one of the big lakes was almost completely frozen. It was a river I’d fished before with some success–meaning two hits all day–and I had been looking forward to getting back out there ever since.
This time around, instead of heading downriver like I had on my solo trek, we went upriver first and start exploring the water there.
As good as I’d found the below the bridge to be, upriver was even nicer. There was nice looking run after nice looking run and Chad and I did our best to work them all very thoroughly.
This was the first time I’d really worked a river with someone. It was interesting to watch how Chad fished a run, what tactics he used and little things like how often he switched up flies. It was nice to see that he wasn’t doing anything that was so different it would have changed the way that I fished, as nice as that would have been.
After a couple of fishless hours up river of the bridge, we moved down river.There wasn’t as much nice water down river of the bridge, but there was enough to keep things interesting. Islands, gravel bars and manmade structures help give the river at least something that was fishy looking.
I had high hopes for the down river section. The last time I was out here, down river was where all the action was. This time around, though, there wasn’t much of anything hanging out in the water.
It certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying, though. We covered the water that held promise very thoroughly and I’d like to think that if there had been any fish int he water, we would have caught, or at least hooked into, one of them.
Part of the problem, I think, was the timing of it. We had just come out of a very intense period of cold weather, for this region, anyway and, not only that, but there wasn’t much in the way of bugs or bait fish activity in the water. The only thing we found under rocks were very small mayfly nymphs and we were too early for salmon fry to be in the river–although I did end up finding a stonefly nymph while I was putting my waders away after the trip.
We’re moving into salmon fry season, at least I think we are. I’ve never really tried to target trout during that time, so I’m not exactly sure of the timing of it, but the one thing I do know is that water has way of luring you back with promise of something better. Rivers are particularly good at making the promise, as they’re in a constant state of flux and what holds true one day, is no longer true the next.
Chad’s already talking about getting back out there and I know I’m thinking of it, too. I’m going to make an effort to fish this river more this year. I’m dying to know what the different seasons are like from a fishing perspective. I have a feeling there’s some killer dry fly fishing to be had there once things warm up enough.
The best part of the trip was everything I was able to learn. Spending a day with a Euro nymph style rig was great practice, although I can see where there would be some downsides to fishing this way all the time–most of which will almost certainly go away with practice, I’m sure. There was one major a-ha moment, well, two actually.
The first came when Chad got to my place and effortlessly moved all his gear into my car in one bag–compared to the half a dozen or so plastic bags and loose gear that I travel with. I’ve already claimed a bag here to deal with that issue. The second was when we got there and started setting up. Chad pulled a little mat out of his bag to stand on while he got his waders and boots on. I almost feel like that one should have been obvious, but it never even crossed my mind.
Before I go fishing again, I guarantee there’s going to be a trip to the store to buy a mat.
I enjoyed reading about your trip – and your a-ha moment had me smiling. From your photos, this looks a lovely place to spend some time, fish or no fish. And I don’t doubt you’re under the spell of that river, and back you’ll go…
Thanks, Plaid Camper. For being basically right on the highway it was a very peaceful spot. I prefer the backcountry, but it’s always interesting to get to know the populated spots. You never really know what you’re going to find.
Keep the faith, brother angler, and heed the call when it arrives… Fishing bigger streams and rivers in the cold season can be challenging, to say the least. The fish tend to be immobile, and seldom bite unless the fly or lure almost bumps them in the nose. I find that small streams or spring creeks are much more productive in winter, small streams because it’s easier to reach the fish, and spring creeks because of their warmer temperatures. But it’s fun to get out there when the urge arrives and, as you say, there’s always something new to experience and learn.
Thanks, Walt. I’d much rather be on a smaller stream, but everything is frozen solid right now.
Hmmm. That seems to be only half the comment I wrote. Let’s see… here’s the full comment. “Thanks, Walt. I’d much rather be on a smaller stream, but everything is frozen solid right now. It’s a little unusual for this time of year. The big lakes around here are freezing over completely for the first time in decades. I’m enjoying the time I’m spending honing my skills. Plus, I think this is one of those rivers that’s worth getting skunked on a lot for that one fish you catch.”