Monday, May 9, 2016

Branching Out

Anglers are a funny bunch. We can get pretty comfortable in certain stretches of water that treat us well. Whether in fresh or saltwater, we all have our favorite spots. Often times we grow complacent and keep going back to those comfort zones while ignoring other areas or bodies of water entirely. I am guilty of this. I have been fishing one small stream off and on for over a decade, yet in all that time I have only seen about a mile of it. A select rotation of riffles and pools usually produce a healthy lot of wild browns and native brookies on every visit. It's a quick hit that's not far from home for me, a good option for when I don't have the luxury of a full day on the water (full day on the water...Ha!). 

Catching fish in familiar water is fun. I wouldn't keep doing it if it wasn't. I didn't see a need to explore any more of this particular stream. Hell, I hardly ever re-rigged or changed flies--a small pheasant tail nymph under a Stimulator fooled 90% of my trout here. This spring, however, I forced myself to branch out to water up and downstream of my usual haunts. No rods were carried on the first two scouting walks. I took some photos and mental notes at each run I would have fished. One thing I noticed right away was that the dry-dropper technique wasn't well suited for much of the new water I encountered. It was back to the basics with a method and fly pattern responsible for hooking me, and likely thousands of others, on fly fishing in the first place. Many years have gone by since I tied and last fished a small black and olive Woolly Bugger, but like a good bird dog it went right back into action without skipping a beat.

When I finally found time to fish the sections I scouted, the first pool I gravitated to was deep, slow and littered with woody debris--a haven for wild trout. I must have pricked 10 char in that hole alone on my trusty bugger, most of which could fit in the palm of my hand. Feisty, dark fish that acted like they hadn't seen a fly in some time. A handful of heftier brook trout darted from the darkness to pounce my streamer, but any dinosaur brown trout in this new stretch remain elusive for now. It was a short outing, but one of the most productive 90 minutes of fishing numbers-wise I've ever had on this stream. The best part about that day is that I only fished a fraction of the water I scouted. I'm pumped to get back there. I don't get out quite as much as I used to, but I find myself looking forward to the trips more than ever.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Camp Life

Opening Day weekend flew by at breakneck speed as it always does. I sometimes find myself sniffing a jacket with the lingering aroma of campfire smoke just to bring me back there. For three nights and four days, we transformed a landowner's shooting range into an impressive camp with enough food, drink and firewood to stay a month. We lucked out with dry weather for the duration and tested our sleeping bags with a hard frost the first morning. While we may not see each other for months at a time, our crew is like a well-oiled machine at camp. It's hard to top the cuisine year after year, but somehow we manage. Between the seafood paella, eye-of-round, four types of whiskey, 100 Wellfleet oysters, and array of cheese and cured meats, it was sensory overload all weekend. We even got out of camp by noon on two days to fish. It was one hell of a celebration of spring and everything that comes with it. Until next year...