Sunday, August 29, 2010

Try, Try again

After talking to someone at a BBQ two weekends ago I decided to give the North fork of the Willamette river another go.  I've been there probably three of four times already and never had much luck other than catching a few tiny guys.  I also have found it a little frustrating because the water level just seemed too high.

Well, apparently since I last hit this water it has come down significantly.  It was very happily wadable and I was able to get to just about any part of the river I wanted to fish.  I do, however, still find wading in Oregon a scary and frustratingly slow process.  I have become used to the river bottoms of the Eastern Rocky Mountains where there are lots of smaller rocks and a few larger ones.  Out here there are only big and bigger rocks.  It makes wading tough because in one step I can go from ankle deep water to waist deep.  If I don't see that coming it spells bad news and wet clothes.  Fortunately I have managed to not far.  On the plus side wading through this stuff is going to teach me to judge depth by sight better.  I'm pretty bad at that.

Last time I was out on this river I noticed some mountain bikers riding a trail on the other side of the river from the road.  I decided today to go check that out.  There's a road across the river a little farther upstream from the places I have previously fished, so I drove up there and parked.  I followed the single track trail through the lush forest back downstream about a half mile where the river looked like something I could pull some fish out of.  And some whoppers I did pull out!  Man the fish here are big.  I don't remember how many in all I caught in this stretch of water, but it was somewhere between five and ten in three hours.  Not great, but better than the smell of a skunk.

After tiring my arms out fighting all the monsters in that stretch of water I packed up my stuff and headed back upstream with the intention of hitting one more spot on my way back to the car.  About half of the way back to the car where the trail had climbed up the side of the hill some ways, I could see a still section of the river down fifty yards below me.  I stopped to watch for rising fish and five seconds after stopping I saw the first fish take a nibble off the surface.  It was a fifty yard nasty hike downhill through some dense underbrush so I kept watching to make sure it was going to be worth the effort.  The glassy surface of the water, which was a good 80 yards long was getting picked at here and there quite regularly.  That made my decision for me so I found a game trail and followed it down to the water's edge.

Once at the waters edge, I watched for a few minutes to get an idea of where a few fish nearby were.  I sneaked up to the edge of the bank on me knees in an attempt to be stealthy and gave the closest fish my best presentation.  He seemed to know something was up because after my first cast (which I didn't think was bad) I didn't see him rise again.  I tried again and cast to the next closest fish which was just a little further out and another 10 yards downstream.  I made sure to cast way upstream of him and give the fly a nice long drift to the fish.  When the fly got over where he was, I saw my top fly go under because he apparently took my dropper.  He actually fought me for a few seconds, which was nice and when I got him to the bank I realized he was actually a nice fish.  Not huge but my first nice fish on the river, which then got me excited for the rest of the fish rising in this slow-moving glassy water.

I continued to fish this slow-moving, nearly still-water stretch with some luck.  The fish continued to rise and I quickly realized that the nice fish I caught may have been the biggest in the area.  I saw quite a few 4-inchers jump out of the water going for bugs on the surface.  I caught a few more smaller fish in this area, called it a day and hiked back to the car.

And apparently that lush forest is also lush with poison ivy because I have since broken out all over my left calf with the stuff.  It brings back bad memories of childhood when I contracted this horrid rash a couple times every summer.  If you aren't allergic to it, count yourself lucky because it really blows.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Going Home

I took the chance this past weekend to go visit some friends back in Boulder, Colorado.  I'm not sure if the purpose was to visit friends or to fish what I consider my home river there.  I spent pretty much equal times doing both and I can't say for certain which was more enjoyable.  I can, however, say for certain both were great.

The fishing on the South Boulder Creek was as good as it ever has been, at least for me.  I have a number of friends who claim that water is a waste of time, but my experience is that it's worth at least 10 days a year minimum.  And in those 10 days I can expect to catch a total of 200+ fish.  They may not be huge, but some are reasonably size.

I started on Friday by driving straight from the airport to Eldorado Canyon, which is actually a spot quite close town that I had never attempted before.  I met up with a friend from my old soccer team and we hit up the pocket water through the canyon and had a reasonably successful afternoon.  We each caught a dozen or so each from noon to 5.  Not an amazing day, but good for how hard we fished (not very).  Apart from one brief but heavy rainstorm the weather cooperated too.

I apparently didn't take too many pictures on day one.  Probably because I forgot my camera in the car and didn't want to risk dropping my phone in the river.

On day two I met up with Brady, Cory, and John to drive up to my home waters on the SBC.  I won't give the spot away, but it doesn't generally get much pressure and holds quite a few fish.  Most of them are small but a few are reasonably sized.  The flows were a little higher than I expected, probably around 180cfs and I think this river is golden once flows drop to 125cfs.  We also saw quite a few other people, which is very rare.  Typically I will see one other person or no one on the stretch of the river I usually hit.  But at least we were numerous enough to scare away any hole-poachers.

Anyway, we all got to a good starting spot and discovered how cold the water was.  Who needs waders?  No one, but we all ended up with cuts and bruises all over our ankles the next day from knocking into rocks.  But at the time it wasn't an issue because we couldn't feel a thing below the knees.  I don't remember who caught fish number one, but I don't think it took too long.

John and Cory have only been out a few times, but John had a few bites throughout the course of the day, and Cory managed to catch a couple whoppers.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures on my camera, sorry Cory.

I don't remember who caught how many and I'm not sure anyone kept track. I'm sure we all caught fewer than we claimed, but I did get images of some of them.

In all it was of course a good trip and the fishing was pretty much exactly as expected.  Plenty of catching, a nice hike, and the discovery of the spicy mustard, warm whiskey shot.  Two were and remain classics, one will never happen again.

Can't wait to fish it again.