Monday, January 29, 2024

A Long Mile

January 19, 2024

In the car from the road I measured the distance from the point I planned on starting to the parking lot was about 1.2 miles. In terms of river miles it was probably 2 miles or so. I figured it would be a rather short session and I'd have to drive to another section to get a full day. How wrong was I. It was so dense and slow moving on the river it took me 6 hours to get off the water and I didn't even finish the course.
Got to the parking lot late at 10:30, hiked down to where I began measuring the distance up above from the road. On the water by 11. Saw fish instantly, good size ones too. Starting with my usual setup the fish were bumping my size 10 fly but not taking it. I decided to size down to a 16 for a change. I was still using my old leader that I never add tippet to and it was down to 4.5 feet. Basically down to the butt section. It was probably 20-30 pounds but it still threaded through the eye of the hook. Fish didn't care. Because I was fishing such heavy tippet and within the overhanging canopy I would on several occasions hook onto a wayward branch, if I couldn't release the fly with finesse techniques I would get more aggressive and I would bend several hooks this way and I would change flies then. Fished a variety of sizes to test if it made a difference from 18 back up to my usual size 10. It didn't so I eventually went back to fishing big. I hooked at least 4 fish in the "trophy" class (10+ inches) but lost each one when my hookset would be interfered with by some over head branch. I spooked an absolute pig. Because of refraction and my poor eyes I generally estimate fish size in the water much smaller than they actually are. Just for context, I've fished many times with my buddy, who has way better eyesight than I, and when we've seen a fish in the water we'd ask each other how big we think it is. I'd say "looks like 12-13" he say "no way that's at least 18." He'd be right. So if the fish I saw yesterday looked big, it must have been huge. It was in an impossible hole to fish, fallen trees prevents any drift. A bait or lure angler also wouldn't have any chance. No wonder this guy got so big. Of course this place has produced hogs in the past so its good to see it coming back.
Fishing was excellent and there's a ton of fish in the system. It was getting dark and I didn't want to stop but eventually had to if I wanted to get out safely. Rather than hike down river a quarter mile or so to the obvious trail back up the canyon, I took the most dickhead path up. I made it 90% of the way until stopped by a fallen tree that blocked the path. I'd have to climb back down the canyon and get back on the river until I decided to look on the other side of the tree. It looked like there maybe a path out so gingerly made my way around it once there it looked like if I crawled I could make it through. I realized once on that side the branches were so brittle I could break a path through. Once past I was 95% way up but now facing a what seemed like a 90 degree incline. I had to climb that crumbling vertical face now. Not easy even without a fly rod in hand but I finally made it up to the paved trail and got out of there safely. I heard an Army guy once say "if it looks stupid and it works it's not stupid." I'm not too sure of that because that was kind of stupid.
On the way home stopped by a local Mexican restaurant for some carne asada.  

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