Sunday, March 17, 2013

Drift less, strip more

I finally made it out fishing with my buddy Ryan on Friday after a few weeks of trying to pin down some plans. We originally had agreed to try for Wisconsin steelhead, but we had to scrap that idea the night before since the lake tribs were reluctant to fall all week. So we scrambled to swap out our steelhead gear to be packed and ready for small spring creek trout in the Driftless the next morning. 

Only having one day to fish (we had decided to forego an overnight), we headed for some of the closer streams. At the first spot, it didn't take long for Ryan to hook into a nice brown. 

I probed around the bridge with a streamer to no avail. Took a hike, switched to nymphs, and got a little 'bow. 
Before the debarbing

We fished upstream and down for a good ways with no other takers despite great conditions (overcast skies, light rain, clear water). So we grabbed some day-old fast food being advertised as made-to-order and headed West to another river.
Yea, that way

The fish in this river were plentiful but well educated. But it was fun to watch them rise all afternoon and spook at the sight of fly line high over the water. They wanted nothing of our caddis. 

Ryan got a tip from a friend via cell phone as we passed through what little area had signal. It sounded good and was back in the direction home, so we went to check it out. A few wrong turns later, we were one intersection away, but we couldn't turn down the water we were rolling over on our way. So we stopped to check out a wide, deep-ish section of stream that was a little off-color. With the low light and slow water, we decided it was streamer time. 

Pretty soon thereafter, Ryan hollered from downstream that he has his personal best rainbow on the line--a bright red fish he claims to be 20" or more. Wanting to see what he was probably lying about, I began to jog his way, but in the fresh mud of the stream banks, I slipped and busted my ass. When I arose, Ryan's rod no longer had any bend in it, and he looked defeated. The big 'bow had kept his streamer and wanted no part of a photo-op. I decided to copy Ryan's retrieve but got nothing at first. Ryan tied on an even bigger streamer and started getting aggressive takes, but most weren't staying buttoned up. Finally, he landed a 12" brown trout. A few casts later, I heard what sounded like a 5-gallon bucket of water being dumped in the water. I turned toward Ryan to see a giant boil near the end of his line, and Ryan was shouting that it's the same rainbow from before! He's going to get his streamer back! But alas, the fish would evade us once more. 

I was thinking this is crazy nonsense, but I upsized my streamer anyway. I find the biggest rabbit strip/marabou/ice dub/lead eye/jig hook thing in my box and tie it on to my 6lb test leader on a 5-weight rod. Strip, pause, strip, strip, strip, pause...BOOM! Strip-setting, I only managed to part the line with my giant fly and what I can only imagine is the same fish that Ryan had now lost twice. I couldn't see the fish that stole my fly, and I didn't even get to fight it. 

The takes, in general, became more common in the next hour, and we landed a few more brownies. We missed more fish than we hooked. 

Once more, I made a sloppy cast slightly upstream with a conehead streamer and waited for it to sink. Without stripping the fly even once, the line jolted and was almost torn from under my finger on the grip. I set the hook, and a giant, bright red fish surfaced. I told Ryan to get his eyes and his net over to the action on my line (actually, what I said was, "DUDE! I got your fish! Holy $#@*"). He got down to water level and begins sinking in the mud. But with a few swipes of the net, the fish was caught. We moved up onto more solid ground (snow) to de-hook and measure the fish--turned out to be 21" on the nose.  We were in awe. But we were a little upset she didn't bring our other streamers back to us. Back at the muddy water's edge, we snapped some pics. Water on the lens. Mud everywhere. A few pics in, the fish decided it was time to stop messing with her two foolish admirers, and she bolted out of my hands.

It was a long drive home, but we were glad to end the night on a high note. 

No comments:

Post a Comment