Last Sunday Sloop John B set up the annual Troutbitten winter cookout. I think most of us prefer to fish with a little space around us, so I’ve never been one to get excited about fishing with a load of people, but at this location, there are so many different directions to go and so many nice pieces of water that it is easy to spread out and find a little room, and that’s what we all did. We basically broke up into pairs, fished the morning, then met up for lunch and drank a few legal beverages; then we split up and went fishing again. It was great to see some old friends and meet some new guys that are clearly Troutbitten. Gotta love it.
Dad and I started the morning by backtracking up the road a bit; I crossed the creek and we fished opposite sides of the water for a while. If the river is big enough, this is one of my favorite ways to fish with a friend. The fishing was pretty good for most of the morning on real small stuff like Zebra Midges and WD40s. It didn’t seem to matter which small pattern I put on, they would usually take it over whatever fly I was trailing it behind. Action was good, but not quite good enough to be one of those days where you just stick with what you’ve got; and I’m a restless soul, so I’m always looking for the pattern that may be lights-out on a given day.
It was awesome to fish with my Dad again because ….. well, he’s my favorite fishing buddy. We have a lot of river-memories together. Dad also kindly loaned me his Simms G3 waders because I’ve been getting wet while wearing my backup pair of the original Simms guide waders from about 1999. They have more than a few patches, and if I’m in the creek for more than a couple hours, the incoming water eventually soaks through all the layers of wool and synthetics and I get wet. My “good” waders are in the middle of a return process, so I wore Dad’s extra G3’s while he wore his G4’s. Yes, he has both. When I grow up I want to be just like my Dad.
The action right after lunchtime wasn’t as good for me, but I enjoy the kind of fishing where you really have to work to pick up a fish, and that’s what it was. If I hit a good spot hard, changing tactics and/or flies , moving to change the angle of the drift, or leading a little quicker and giving the nymphs some motion, I could usually pick up a fish. It was the kind of afternoon that felt like if you tried hard enough, you could almost make something happen. That’s fun fishing.
I was probably too stubborn about sticking with the small stuff that had been working in the morning, and by mid afternoon, I seemed to figure out that I could do better with larger patterns, and I started moving fish more consistently on size 14’s hung from a tag dropper about 18 inches above the point. The trout never did turn on to egg patterns, but with about an hour and a half of daylight left I changed out the point to a large stonefly and things turned on. It’s hard to say that it was just the pattern (thought it certainly could have been) because with the daylight fading I also started moving quickly upstream, cherry-picking the prime spots, and about a half hour before dark I arrived at a great little run just above the parking lot and things got silly.
I’ve had good luck on this creek many times right before dark in the wintertime, and in this very same spot, I have a memory of laughter echoing off the steep canyon walls as Pat and I hooked a fish on just about every other cast one winter evening at last light. The action wasn’t quite that good, but it was fun. Everything took the stonefly.
Pat’s picture here is uncharacteristically out of focus, but he is making me post it because it was the fish of the day.
It was an enjoyable day on the water, and thanks to everyone who stopped by and fished with us. Joe King, Sloop JohnB, and Matt Vance and his crew. We’ll do it again sometime.
At lunchtime a guy pulled into the small parking area and was surprised to see so many people and vehicles on a winter day. “Are you guys part of of an organized group or something,” he asked.
Well, no sir. This is Troutbitten.