Yesterday I had the chance to get out early and stay pretty late. I had big plans for a full day on the water, but the heavy rain bumped the gauges and made it clear when I awoke before dawn that my options for fishing anything that wasn’t really high and real muddy were severely limited.
My home water was a viable option, but I decided long ago that if I have a full day for fishing I do not fish my home stream, reserving it mostly for quick trips. So, I traveled north to a small creek that I knew would be clear enough no matter how much rain it received.
I arrived on the lowest section of trout water shortly before the sun came up on a creek that has an interesting mix of native brook trout, wild browns, stocked brookies and stocked browns, and my goal was to try to fish through the often eager stocked fish and find the wild ones which are (at this early stage of the season) pretty well outnumbered. I picked up a few fish, and as the rain and wind mostly gave way to sparse sun and light breezes, I heard car doors closing in the distance and realized that the morning had grown late enough and pleasant enough to provide an invitation to the masses. It was the Monday after opening day, and I was soon overrun by hobbyists. Reluctantly, I relocated.
Getting upstream 5 miles requires a 15 mile jaunt up one mountain, through a pair of valleys and around a second mountain. I usually prefer the unregulated section of this creek, hiking downstream a couple miles and then fishing my way back up, but the lower parking areas were littered with lifted F150’s and Grand Am’s with missing hubcaps. By predictable contrast, when I drove to the regs water I found one BMW and a guy casting in a pool to rising bluegill that he insisted were trout when I passed behind him. I know for a fact they were panfish because there’s always a pod of them in that spot — and because I caught a couple on my way back. Couldn’t resist.
I had a thoughtful day as I picked up trout in the usual places, and reminisced about fishing days passed. I realized that my standards have changed — or at least something about me has. I remember first learning this water and fishing it hard about ten years ago; I was enamored with the mix of trout available, and I enjoyed the extra tug on the line from the larger stocked fish. Yesterday, however, I had more fun trying to predict where the wild fish would be; and as I dodged the occasional whiz-clicker working downstream with spinners, I alternated fishing a dry-dropper rig and tight-lining. The wild fish were most often near the tiny tribs that trickle down the insignificant ravines, and the stocked fish were just about anywhere, although they were still holding in pods.
I fished almost two miles of water; instead of walking the dirt road on the way back, I hiked the orange-blazed trail on the opposite side, and it was a good reminder that people from all over the region enjoy this area in many different ways.
Every spring, after the relative solitude that I enjoy on the water for most of the winter, it takes me a couple trips before I adjust to the presence of other human beings in the same woods and water again.
I guess I re-calibrated yesterday. Welcome back.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N