This post is from contributing author, Pat Burke
The streams in our area have been high for most of the spring making it extremely difficult to find time on the water with manageable flows. It was only a matter of time though until I hit it right.
Saturday morning our family spent the entire day car shopping for my wife. Upon arriving home, I could tell my wife was in a pleasant and agreeable mood. We just spent the better part of two hours driving home in her brand new vehicle. On top of that, we just picked out a brand new swing set for the kids. I spotted an opportunity. I nervously approached my wife and cautiously asked if I could go on an overnight fishing trip. She gave me a long blank stare, I fidgeted a bit, and she smiled sensing my awkward demeanor. Clearly she was letting me suffer a bit. Then she said yes.
Since having kids, an overnight fishing trip has become a rare luxury. My wife understands my obsession and she usually lets me go if I ask. I love her for it. At the same time, I recognize how difficult it is to take car of two wild boys all day by yourself. So I don’t ask often. After rounding the corner and going out of sight, I let my excitement overtake me as I scrambled to my fishing gear to prepare. Hell yeah I was going crocodile hunting!
My destination was a river that is known for hard fishing and low numbers. The payoff is it has a reputation for occasionally giving up big gnarly fish with hooked jaws and elongated snouts. In other words, crocodiles! See the resemblance?
I arrived early Sunday morning and found the water much higher than my liking. Fishing the pocket water was pretty much out for the next few days so I focused my time on the pools. I went almost two hours with no action. Finally after thoroughly fishing a few large pools, my indicator dunked hard and I felt weight. The sudden rush of adrenaline quickly faded when I realized the object on the end of my line wasn’t pulling back. My first catch of the day was a pair of women’s black lace panties. It was an exciting catch, but not really what I was after.
Shortly after, I hooked up with the first fish of the trip.
It’s amazing what catching a single good fish can do for your confidence. I continued onward slowly working through the pools picking up a fish every few hours.
It was a test trying to remain focused with the slow action. As usual, the fish seemed to hit at inopportune times when my head wasn’t totally in the game. I dropped a few fish from being slow on the hookset. Due to the increased flows, I was fishing around 8 feet of tippet below my indicator, with multiple heavy tungsten beads, and sometimes as many as four #1 split shots. Talk about chuck and duck! That’s what it took to get down in some of the large pools though.
After multiple drifts through a deep pool, adding a few more split shot is what it took to get this fish to take.
I took the best fish of the day about an hour before dark in a heavy chute. This fish gave a hell of fight in the substantial water. Overall it was a successful first day.
In a rush to plan the trip, I decided to just sleep in my truck, troutbum style, rather than booking a hotel. I guess I didn’t really think the plan through because that night I had trouble deciding where to sleep. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a brew shop that sold singles while I was driving around aimlessly looking for somewhere to crash for the night. I picked up a couple Terrapin Hopsecutioners and continued trying to sort out my sleeping arrangements.
Eventually I ended up sleeping in Walmart’s parking lot… I know, it definitely wasn’t one of my classier moments. All that mattered though was catching a few hours of sleep and getting back out there to get a crocodile.
The next day is when the magic happened. The water dropped just enough overnight that crossing and navigating the considerable flows was getting easier. I started early in the day in the regs water and eventually drove a few miles down river to look for bigger fish. Most of the pocket water was still too heavy to fish so I hole hopped targeting the deep buckets right off the backside of shallower fast water. The majority of the fish that ate eagerly pounced on the fly within the first couple drifts. I started to get the sense that thoroughly covering every inch of water with multiple drifts wasn’t necessary. I continued with an indicator rig, fishing quickly, only overlapping my drifts once or twice before moving to a different feeding lane.
It’s tough to leave the water early when the big fish are actively feeding, but I promised my boys I would wrap up around lunch time. Here are a few of the crocs from Monday’s fishing.