Monday, January 30, 2012

Icy Guides, Icy Trout

Icy guides were a frustration all morning.
Review coming up on the GlacierMending & Stripping Glove
It's been a weird January.  Been working hard at the day job.  Working hard at the night job.  Working hard to get a little movement on this Sunday Hunting issue in Virginia (Pennsylvania's next).  It's been 60 degrees and sunny for 5 days in a row, then 30 degrees and snowy (ideal hunting conditions) for 45 minutes, then 25 degrees and sunny for 3 days, then back to 60 degrees. Dandelions blooming.  Weird.

In the midst of the chaos, I blocked out a few hours of my schedule to hit "my" trout spot for a few hours.  The unfortunate part of having a busy schedule and having to schedule outdoor time is that you totally lose control over your usual ability to play the conditions.

Such was the case on this day.  Morning temperature? 24 degrees. Sunny. Oh well, I had two hours to burn, and I was going outside, end of story.  I geared up my ultralight spinning setup - very sure that I'd not be able to fly cast icy floating line - and set down the road. I hadn't been trout fishing in true winter conditions in about five years, and the last trip was miserable - 13 degrees, 4 hours, one lousy rainbow trout about 10" long.  Of course I wanted to catch fish this time, but I had simpler goals: stay safe, take it slow, relax.  I pulled into the spot's lone parking space, and, whipping out my own copy of my directions to the spot, got into the creek and started working.

I'd last fished here in early November - and what a great few hours that was!  I was unprepared for how much the river would have changed in just a few short months.  The water was higher, but I had already noticed that by checking the gage before my trip.  It was just stunning how much gravel has moved around.  This pool below the bridge looks different every time I visit.  The changing bottom profile doesn't make it any easier to fish.

This pool (to the left) has been a fun one for me - it was about 8 feet deep last summer, and about 6 feet deep (and lined with gravel) in November.  Now it's 4 feet deep, with tons of silt laying around.  Bah humbug!

I was throwing a variety of inline spinners - oh wait - the offical trout angling jargon is "french inline spinning flies" - that were a mix of gold and silver spoons with a variety of metallic, white, chartreuse, red, brown, and black flies.  When you call them "french inline spinning flies," they cost $7.99 each instead of $2.99 each. If you call them  "rooster tails," well, then, they cost $1.67. And that's one to grow on.

The flies themselves were a mix of patterns.  They included woolly buggers in chartreuse, red, brown, and black, some metallic nymphs in black, red, silver, and gold, and a black nymph for good measure.

The water wasn't the highest or fastest I've fished it, but it was definitely high.  Because I like to complicate matters at all times, I was using Nano-Braid (I can't remember the product name yet) for the first time, which was not really ideal.   I'll fish that line again soon, and review it here soon after, but at $20/150 yards I don't know that it was a great deal.  It's responsive, but you can't tie it with regular knots (the bloggers who got sent the Press Package of Nanofil got a note to that effect, but if purchased at the store, you get no such warning).

Between gravel nicks, gravel hang-ups, and icy guides on the rod, I lost several $4-$5 spinni...excuse me....french inline spinning flies (How ya like me now!).  It was frustrating but because the conditions were a little unusual for me, I at least felt like I was really learning a few things.  Luckily, the outing wasn't totally without fish bites.

On such a cold day, you'd expect that trout wouldn't be cruising in shallow runs and riffles.  And you'd be wrong, as I was.  I saw several 8-12" rainbows just cruising around in water less than 2' deep.  I did see one cruising around in a shallow eddy (the photo above this paragraph), and tossed him a brown woolly bugger and silver spoon.  On the fourth or fifth cast down from my boulder, I got a strong strike, but no hookup.

In all I got about 4 solid strikes and another 3 or 4 bite-n-carries, but no trout to hand.  The go-to lures were black, brown, and chartreuse buggers in a size 12 (that tip is for my memory, but feel free to use it!).

This spot is off of the DNR stocking list, and I'm curious to see if they'll put it back on this year.  I've never seen anyone fishing there except me.  How strange. Soon enough, it was time to get back and back to adult productivity.  Not a perfect fishing trip (on its own merits) to start 2012, but maybe a perfect start to a good fishing year.


Devin Angleberger said...

I'll have to give that "spot" a try this Spring.

Kirk Mantay said...

Sure thing, let's do it. I'll feel a lot more confident when the water goes down a bit. The pools are much easier to work when it's around 75-90 cfs, it was at about 180-220 cfs when I fished it this time. Fishing's never easy in 33 degree water!

Eastern Shore Outdoors said...

Nice post..Sounds like a good break...I could use some of that...Phil

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