Predicted weather was high sun and fairly warm, not good for streamer fishing. Considering salmon had recently started to congregate on gravel we figured it’d be a good weekend to see if trout we’re setting up shop behind them. This time of year is great for fishing behind spawning salmon for trout gorging on eggs. It’s one of the only times you can actually sight fish trout in MI like you can out west. This is true western high stick nymphing. Our fish are so spooky and spend a majority of their time buried in wood, especially on bight, sunny, clear water days. The fun part about this type of fishing is that 99% of the people on the river are chasing salmon. There are 20″ trout in plain view and most don’t care. Perfect.
We headed to well known local piece of water that offers very easy wading. This stretch of river is loaded with quzilty trout that you don’t see most of the year. We spent half the day walking and looking for trout. Hands over our forwards to block the sun trying to find a trout here and there. Once we saw them stealth wasn’t needed. These same trout that don’t show themselves ever, now could care less that we’re standing less than 5 feet away from them.
It wasn’t a fast and furious day but we found a few nice fish on a quality warm fall day.
I got him! Those are the words I yelled when my articulated, rubber legged, fur piled, giant eyed, white fly disappeared in mouth of one of the bigger Michigan trout the 3 of us had ever seen.
As most of these blog posts seem to go “we headed north…it was a tough day of streamer fishing….morale was down….” this one was no different. We had perfect conditions, it was cool and overcast. We had spent the day slinging just about every size and style of bug we had in our boxes. Mid day we stopped for lunch and conversation. Youngberg mentioned a big fish they had moved the week before but wasn’t sure how big because the water was pretty off color, none the less BIG. As we floated down river Youngberg was on the sticks. He reminded us that the “spot” was coming up 50 yards down, river right. I see it, quick riffle that dumps into a little slower water that’s broken on top, a cut bank and a nice “V” seam at the tailout. Perfect. Anxiety grew as we approached, even though most pointed out fish never show themselves. Chris bombs a cast from the front of the boat that lands about 2″ off the bank. As he begins to make his first strip something erupts on the surface and he yells “holy shit”. It missed. He casts back into the same spot and this giant chases and misses again. At the same time this is going on I’m false casting waiting for my shot. While doing so I see this monster of a trout darting in every direction in a 20’x20′ radius looking to annihilate anything in it’s path. This fish had created a cloud of dirt in the river from feverishly tearing around. From the back of the boat I drop my fly near the bank, start stripping and from that dust cloud I see it ripping at my bug at mach 10. We’re all watching in anticipation of this fish eating. It’s mouth opens, my articulated, rubber legged, fur piled, giant eyed, white fly disappears…I’ve got him!
Seconds after that none of us knew what happened. It seems to occur more often than we like. Two fairly large hooks on this fly that completely disappeared in the mouth of a trout and somehow found their way out. We won’t forget this one for a long time. Good for him…we’ll be back.
Decided to try our luck with a little early streamer fishing on a section of river I don’t spend enough time on. We avoided a piece we usually float due to the chance that traffic could be bad because of salmon. We didn’t have people and we also didn’t have fish. High sun, low clear water and the big fish from the lake had trout spooky and no interest in looking at our bugs. We found one little guy but didn’t see much of anything else. Knowing winter was around the corner it wasn’t so bad enjoying a sunny fall day on the river.
Bass One Fly. This was the 3rd annual B1F and it’s growing every year. It started with a few guys and this year we had 9. The rules are simple, you get 1 fly to use, there are 3 thirty minute sessions per boat, 3 boat rotations and if you lose you fly you’re done. Total fishing time for the tourney is a serious 4.5 hours which is then followed by great food, beer and bullshit. There are 2 prizes; cash for the biggest fish and The Duke Lily Cup for the most fish. In most circumstances a winner would want the cash but not here. With the Cup comes bragging rights for an entire year.
The Duke Lily Cup was created as a tribute to the loss of a couple of our four legged friends. Dan and I had both recently lost our dogs and when we couldn’t figure out what to call this cup we decided on these two knuckles to represent the coveted trophy. They will live on in a yearly celebration of friends and fishing.
Year one I was able to squeeze out a last minute “at the buzzer” victory over Bob from the well known Michigan Fly. Year two Dan (aka Tiny Elvis, also from Michigan Fly) won in a landslide. This year a crafty new comer would find his way to the promise land. It was a relatively slow day of fishing but Joe Donati was able to land enough fish to get his name etched on the Cup as the winner of the 3rd annual B1F.
Changing of the Guard
FFW…Fly Fish Wyoming! It had been a few years since I was out West. I had been looking forward to this trip for some time. I lived in Colorado for 7 years and never spent a day in WY to fish. The plan was to meet to a couple buddies from Texas and Colorado and spend a total of 8 days fishing a few different areas. We met in Laramie, grabbed some provisions and headed for Grey Reef just west of Casper. When we got to the campground we still had a few hours of light so we decided to drop the boat in for a quick two hour streamer session. We were able to find a few fish before the lights went out. It was a great way to start the trip.
We talked to the guys at Grey Reef fly shop and found out the name of the game was nymphing on the fly out of the boat in the Grey Reef section. I stuck to my stubborn Michigan roots for the day and streamer fished. I had a few flashes but no fish to the boat. Justin and Colin decide to take the shops advice and had some luck nymphing. That first day we floated we saw that everyone was doing this same type of fishing, apparently referenced as “hot laps”. It’s basically circling around and around in giant football size eddies and nymphing. These guys caught some decent rainbows in 16-18′ range but I don’t think this is what any of us had in mind.
That evening and the next day we discovered Fremont Canyon. It’s section of river above the lake Grey Reef flows out of. It’s small water and we heard that because of it’s size it’s generally super crowded. So much so that when a person jumped out of a run or hole another person or 2 was scrambling to get in it. We decided to go look at it for something different. When we arrived there wasn’t a single person there. Both days we fished we only saw 1 or 2 people. This was classic mountain nymph fishing. This I loved, what I remembered of fishing the west. We found many willing fish in just about riffle, run and hole. This was satisfying fishing, fish where there should be fish.
We planned on parting ways with Colin the following day as he had to head back to Denver. Justin and I had scheduled to meet a few other guys from Denver a little south of Casper at Bennett Peak. Before we separated we fished fished Fremont Canyon again for a few hours. While there I buried a size 22 RS2 deep in a finger. I figured it’d be easy to get out because it was so small, I was wrong. Since we were leaving later anyway I decided to wrap it up and fish a little longer. I tried icing it and pulling it out but the hook wouldn’t budge. We decided since we were going through Casper on the way south we could stop at a medical center. Welcome to 1920’s medicine. Long story short a numbing shot, a pair of rusty “dykes” and razor that who knows where it came from to cut me open…the hook was removed. It wasn’t pretty but it was out. From there drove south for 4 hours to meet up with a a few other guys.
When we arrived at Bennett Peak we still had a few hours of light left. Justin and I opted to drop the boat and a streamer trip from Bennett Peak to Treasure Island. This was some of the nicest water I’ve seen for streamer fishing. Every single square inch of this water looked like it could hold fish, and it did. We caught one after another. This is what one comes to expect from Western trout fishing and it didn’t disappoint.
The next day Al showed up and planned on staying for 3 days of camping and fishing. These guys know how to camp. I ate better here than I do at home most of the time. Breakfast burritos with green chili in the morning and ribs at night. That was followed up with a fire, bourbon, cigars and a flowing river about 30 feet away. Hard to beat.
Over the next 3 days we spent time floating the North Platte and wading small mountain creeks. The kind of small creeks that I find myself thinking about when real life gets tough. I get lost in these creeks. I have a soft spot for these creeks. There is a certain purity about them, knowing there is a possibility that a trout lives in the water that may have never seen a human or a fly. To me that is real fly fishing.
I will be back….