Took to the water again for Easter Sunday this time with my buddy KB who picked me up at 7am. bought our breakfast and trail lunch at the local Japanese bakery and we were off. At the trailhead cloud cover in the mountains made it cold enough that I was glad I brought my Montbell UL jacket. Now rigged up we headed up the trail to reach the middle section of the river. Water was a tad fast but clear. All the large fishable pools refused to give up a fish. After a couple hours of nothing we decided to skip most of this section get back on the trail and head up to the waterfall. Once there the river started to give some fish. I lost, missed or blew well over half a dozen chances. I did manage a couple to hand though. KB managed the best fish of the day for sure. Nice to see that some of the respectable models still exist here.
Having tasted the skunk on the last trip, it was time for some "easy" local fishing. After being told of some intel that one of our local streams has recovered from the trout, I headed out to check on them. I was in no hurry to get on the water so I arrived at the parking lot before noon to get ready and head down to the water. After fishing a few "fishy" areas without any result, I focused my attention to the larger pools near the dams. Yet even they failed to produce. After several of promising looking holes refused to give up a fish I switched from fishing mode to scouting mode. Had all the fish really died out form the drought? I was I told faulty info? I was getting a bit frustrated and after a few hours of fishing dead water I started my way out.
I had all but quit in my mind and accepted the fact I may have been hit with another skunk until I decided to try one last section toward the start of the trail that I skipped on my way in. Making my way down to the first hole I managed a rise on my first cast. As I stripped him in he popped off at my legs. Moving to the next hole, I set up for a very complicated cast. With obstructions in front of my target I needled my loop into a triangle of over hanging branches and landed my fly exactly where I wanted. Once the fly landed the fish took and I stripped her in. I moved up to the dam and for the next hour or so I was plucking fish out the water. I lost four flies in poison oak that was in the path of my backcast. I thought of pulling my flies out as they were all bunched together in the same spot but thought better of it. Flies are cheap and risking a rash is not worth it. Now out of my favorite fly I tested a similar fly but tied in an unnatural and unconvincing chartreuse ice dubbed body. It still caught fish. I decided stop and start my exit but not before checking one last section. I made my climb up the trail onto the water until I reached the first hole only to find a bunch of pale half naked, fat Asians sitting alongside the bank. After witnessing the man-boobs I had enough and I made my way back to the main trail to climb out of there.
2019 is the Year of the Pig but its turning out to be more like the Year of the Skunk for me. This trip was no different. With an invite from the boys at the shop we headed up to meet them Friday night. They had already been there fishing on Thursday. After running a few errands we were on the road just before noon.
There was a chance we might be in time for the difficult-to-time salmonfly hatch but we'd never know until we got up there as there is no fly shop that really reports on this water. We arrived at camp to meet half of our group. The other half was still on the water. They all arrived the day earlier so we asked how was the fishing. The report it was tough fishing but we were glad to hear that there had been an consistent 45 minute dry fly hatch around 4pm. They were keying on an almost rust colored mayfly in a size 14.
We didn't bother fishing the first evening although we could have as there was plenty of light left but after the long grueling ride up the mountain I was simply not in the mood. So we set up camp and spent the evening bullshitting with the boys.
Next morning after breakfast and a briefing from the boys we were the first ones to set out. At 3000 CFS we were limited on both wading and fishing areas. The snow melt hadn't yet gone into full effect but the water was still slightly tea stained and still dangerous. Careful wading along the edges were in order. Fishing was tough for all but the boys managed a few to hand. I came up with the skunk but lost one on a dry when my knot slipped. Otherwise it was a tough day all around for me.
The fishing was poor for me but no matter as the scenery more than made up for the disappointment. Wildflowers while not at full glory were still out in force in all their majesty. The highlight for the weekend was the salmonfly hatch which must have just started on Saturday. I managed to see a few on branches and boulders but the trout had yet to target them as evidenced by my failed attempts to get them to rise on a large stimulator.
Everyone but me managed at least one fish mostly by Czech nymphing, a technique I don't care much for but was necessary in these types of conditions. The next day while some decided to fish the main river again, while we decided to check a tributary on the way out. Smaller and ideal dry fly water, the creek refused to give up a fish. So after about a hour we quit and decided to head home.
I had tied some new flies that I wanted to put to the test so I took the boat out and invited Leo again. Tidal predictions looked in our favor so I had high hopes. Ran out to my usual spot this time a little more south and started casting. I started with the spinnerbait fly but had no luck. Leo was on early with a dink and also landed a respectable on as well. With the spinnerbait fly not producing I wanted to try my newest invention but I soon realized I left that fly box in the truck. So I kept the spinnerbait on. Eventually Leo hooked up on a heavy fish that did nothing but putted line. No head shakes, no violent reactions. It eventually broke off his 16 pound tippet. I suspect that it was a ray due to the nature of the fight but we'll never know. I got the stench of the skunk which is all too much becoming a common theme of late.