Getting inside my head can be vexing territory. My mind, like most of my angling brethren, is one of both simple needs and perplexing tendencies. While I’d like to consider myself an evolved life form over our rodentia counterparts, I unabashedly approached the last week of 2012 trouting with the same fervor as a squirrel gathering nuts. Furthermore, I’ve found that understanding the connections and communications made between relative strangers with a shared passion via outdoors blogs, forums and assorted outdoors outlets often times requires a bit of explanation to the uninitiated. Facebook and Twitter power users share their every whim, circumstance or fart via zeros and ones to friends new and old, but the wacky world of independent publishing via fanatic bloggery is a world unto itself. Pounding out my fishing season via pen and picture is like money in the bank, and it’s not only self serving. It’s become almost a public service for those who have chosen to come along for the ride. Don’t think for a second in between ice fishing sessions on cold January nights that I won’t be spending that mental currency, counting down to warmer days ahead. With this in mind I endeavored to stoke the fire and stockpile the cash. In more practical terms, this will be Part One of a Two Part post sending off the trout season in style.
My efforts were divided between getting my final fix of big browns and shooting some scenarios for my ongoing magazine article. I’m happy to report that I was able to convert on both accounts. To be honest with you the fishing far exceeded my expectations for the late season, and I’m amped to share a few of the greatest hits.
I picked up these two females, with my favorite being the football shaped gem pictured above. The fish was all muscle, it was if I was holding a flexed bicep. I spent considerable time this week attempting some tripod “release shots” with varying levels of success. Quite frankly I dropped a few fish without ever even capturing a useable frame including one eclipsing the mythical 20″ mark. Note to self: Snap a few frames to capture the fish before going for the risky handheld shots.
For the second week in a row I managed some nice looking males. The bite was surprisingly strong throughout the morning. The typical low light bite was good, but I didn’t see a significant drop even under bluebird skies. There has been an abundance of blue sky in these parts, minus one drizzly gray morning that only lasted the first few hours before the sun burned it away.
The dot pattern on this fish is strangely similar to the one from my last entry, even though they came from different streams. This beast also had a wicked case of “fall color.” The pics don’t to it justice. It had an interesting mix of bright orange brookie-like fire belly and an albino midsection. It was one of the coolest browns I’ve ever seen. I pulled out the GoPro and attempted some underwater shots. The GoPro generally sucks for underwater shooting in most situations (outside of ultra clear water). The pics in this instance ended up a bit murky, but I still find them to be a fun novelty.
Big things come in small packages? It’s probably not news to anyone that frequents these pages that I’m a sucker for throwing big flies. I was stalking this dude with the usual suspects. In this instance my big juicy bugger peaked the interest of this bad boy who rocketed out from a cut bank, only to be rejected at the last moment. I sat for a few moments and contemplated my next play. Often I take a page from my bassin’ background by throwing a follow-up bait as soon as I can tie one on. The number of swing and miss fish has been extraordinarily high over the last few weeks on the big stuff, which reminded me of an experience I had on the Madison a number of years ago. My crew and I were in search of the salmon fly hatch with our giant dries. The action was spotty at best the first day or two. I had the good fortune of shooting the shit with a local guide one day before he left on his float trip. He quickly filled up a fly box for me with a selection of his go to patterns at no cost, just helping a brother out. As it turns out our big flies were way off the mark. The hot fly was a tiny Serendipity that immediately began to bring monster browns and rainbows to hand. In that treasure trove was also a micro Zug Bug pattern that has produced for me over the years. As I stood streamside last week I stared down at that fly and wondered it this fish could be fooled by this puny peacock herled masterpiece. I opted to hang it from a short dropper off of a hopper pattern on this ultra skinny water. I fired the cast “nuts on” right above the sweet spot and I immediately watched the hopper get sucked under the bank like a turd in a toilet bowl. My gut reaction was to jump in the stream and net the beast as soon as I could get within an arms reach. I just didn’t trust such a small fly in the jaws of a fish of this caliber. After a brief tussle I was able to slip him into my net. He proceeded to flip out of my hands, after these two shots, just as his brothers had previously. I looked down into my net to remove my fly and I was shocked to see that the hook was completely broken and was only held together by the thread and other tying materials. I wonder at what point in the battle it had broken? My guess is that it broke as he was flopping around in my net. I hadn’t removed the fly from his jaw it just fell out at some point while I was taking photos. Can you say lucky?
It’s big time moments like these that are simply money in the bank.