There are days on the water that surprise you.
Typically, anglers agree that trout are most active on overcast, drizzly days.
This was not one of those days.
The forecast was all sun. Sun tomorrow, sun next week, and not a chance of rain for who knows how long. When it comes to fishing in these low waters, bright conditions my expectations are usually set pretty low. However, low expectations are often a good thing when it comes to fishing.
The plan was to meet my dad and sister’s boyfriend at 8:00am on a section of river we frequent near my home.
I woke up at 6:00a and couldn’t sleep so I jumped out of bed and decided to head out earlier than the original plan. I downed some coffee and read for a few minutes then headed out with the sunrise a half mile or so above where we planned to fish. By 7:30 I was rolling into the small parking lot and all set up to fish. I walked through the leafless trees, crunching leaves on the path and slowly approached the deep pool that has held many trout for me in the past.
I made a few casts up into the pool with a Moto’s Minnow that had a sz. 20 purple midge trailing behind it. On my fifth cast I watched the my piece of New Zealand twitch ever so slightly. I promptly jerked the rod unexpectantly, but then felt the solid tug back!
Landing one or two in this pool is not uncommon so I was quite happy, but not really shocked that I caught one so quickly. I cast again after taking out the little midge, and I watched the wool indicator twitch yet again in nearly the same spot! This time I was skeptical of the twitch, as the fish don’t often locate that close together here. Anyways, I set the hook and was into another solid 14 in. fish. I got the fish in the net, and admired him for a moment before sending him back to his home. It was another pretty brown trout.
He somehow got my line all twisted up after he munched on the Moto’s Minnow. So while I was fiercely untangling the line, I planned my next few casts. At this point I was in a little bit of shock about how quickly these guys were eating my flies, but I didn’t really expect anything else from the pool.
Once everything was freed I cast again, and…. nothing.
That fulfilled my expectation.
I cast again with my feet and ego firmly back on the ground but then watched in amazement as my indicator completely submerged. I set the hook and was on to a fierce, leaping rainbow trout. He kept jumping and splashing swimming all around the pool. One jump got him nearly chest height with me, which is saying something considering I'm 6’2”.
I finally brought the fiesty fellow to the net, and assumed that would be it for the pool. After all, his splashing and crashing was still echoing through the woods. I sat back and ran through the scene back in my head to ensure it all went into my memory correctly. At this time, I debating on moving up the river or casting again just in case the leaper didn’t scare away every last fish in the river.
I cast again (which is always a good idea).
To my utter amazement I watched as the indicator slightly moved. Rock, twig, or fish that’s the question, and with only one way to find the answer, I set the hook.
Somehow… another fish.
Apparently, I found myself in a pod of fish that had no true care about anything other than eating. I landed 6 out of the pool in 20 minutes. It was on the 6th fish that I remembered I was supposed to meet my little party at the other location, so I retreated back into the woods and ran up to my car.
I drove the mile distance with all my gear still on water dripping off my boots and pack lifeless in my lap, I arrived to an empty lot. I sat on the bumper of my car in the parking lot waiting with excited anticipation. Six fish on this river is an accomplishment. 6 in 20 minutes is bizarre. My dad knows this so I was excited to tell him the news. However, after waiting a few more minutes I tracked down my phone to call him when I saw the message that he and my sister’s boyfriend decided to sleep in.
I had the river all to myself…
I made a bee-line back to the river at my new location and within 10 minutes I was into trout again. It didn't matter which fly - the Minnow or the Midge - they hammered them both time after time.
I found another pod of fish in a pool and made a cast, as it drifted I watched the indicator dip then felt a strange tug. As I started the battle with the trout it felt incredibly odd. That’s when I saw the flash, and another flash several inches away at the same time. I had two fish on my nymphing rig!
I laughed and kept fighting the fish when somehow they both managed to get off…
I didn’t fish for too long, maybe an hour and a half, but when I had to go, I’d landed 24 fish and lost count of how many I missed. They were all splendid quality fish too, picture-perfect markings, and bright colors. Each one was worthy of an oil canvas -except one smaller rainbow that looked like Rocky Balboa after his fight with Apollo - his face was a bit mangled from some recent unfortunate event, and his left eye socket was missing a vital part, the eye. Didn't stop him from trying to down that inch and half long minnow though.
Of course, for that fish-filled story I have a dozen other fishless journeys. That seems to be the thing when it comes to catching large numbers of fish and fishing, there will be days they hit everything and anything that moves and other “perfect” days you couldn’t find fish with a stick of dynamite.
The bottom line is, you have to get out there and fish.