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.

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