Finally, last week, I went fishing. This was after finishing enough of the yard work which accumulated during the cold, rainy weather.
My friend Dennis Greninger and two friends were recently on the water, fishing Hot Creek in California’ eastern Sierras.
Dennis and his friends fished with both nymphs and dry flies. They had good luck with both fly types. The trout took the nymphs strongly and emphatically, rather than with those subtle hits that require a strike indicator.
The weather in the eastern Sierras was changeable. It was nice for a time and then a deluge would chase the anglers undercover. And across the valley from Hot Creek, it was snowing in the White Mountains.
In my case, going fishing was not a sure thing. The yard work did something to my back. In the Introduction to The View From Rat Lake, John Gierach wrote about back pain and said his doctor advised him to “go fishing and if you catch one that hurts you to lift, break him off. Now if you will excuse me, I have sick people to take care of.”
Gierach “went fishing. Doctor’s orders.” Being less tough than that, I was not eager to go fishing sore.
Then Dorothy suggested laying on a heating pad. Like a Biblical miracle, the back pain receded, and it was off to the water!
As you can see from the photograph above, it’s intermittently nice in the Northeast. On this day, the skies were as blue as those that my daughter saw in a trip to remote New Mexico. But there’s still lots of trees and other vegetation that needs to leaf out.
My first stop was a small stream where, some years ago, I watched with awe when the water came alive with trout hitting caddis flies on the surface. Even though I was likely in view of these fish, they were recklessly rising, coming up out of the water and eating the fly from above, rather than a delicate, Downton Abbey sipping rise.
Since caddis hatches begin appearing in May, I returned to this stream. No caddis. No rising flies. In fact, it was almost no stream. A beaver dam had blown out, leaving a confusing set of muddy flats, braided stream and mud on tree trunks showing the former depth of the pond.
|A Woolly Bugger fly|
When a wet fly rides high in the water, the angler must add weight to the leader, even though that makes it hard to cast smoothly.
After adding a BB-sized split shot, on the second cast, the fly stopped moving. When fishing weighted flies, this usually means the fly has snagged the bottom.
But then, “the bottom” started moving. A fish, and not a rock or twig, was on the end of the line.
I got the fly line on the reel and played the fish from the reel, which led to anxious moments with a stubborn fish, strong current and light leader.
After releasing the trout, I went upstream and fished awhile longer. While it was great to cast and prospect for places where the fish would be, the fish were either not there or not interested in the way I was presenting the fly.
When fishing small streams, there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of places where the fly gets hooked on a back cast. Also, a weighted line makes it harder to cast. If anyone has any advice on that, please write in.
Mid-spring angling can be windy but having the extra weight on the line seemed to offset the fly blowing off target from the wind.
This wonderful trip is yet another reminder that it takes a village to catch fish. Dorothy had the genius idea of the heating pad. Carl and my former co-workers got me the Beaverkill Angler gift certificate that enabled me to wade safely and dryly.