So this is part 3 of my trilogy post about my Saturday trip this past weekend. To recap, part one was about my failure to find Spirit lake, and part two was about my mediocre success on Salmon Creek. At the end of part two and the beginning of this part three, I was in my waders and boots and driving my car down the road. I didn't feel like driving all the way home like that so I had to come up with another place to fish somewhat nearby. The road that had been following Salmon creek took me back toward Oakridge, and I followed the sign that told me to turn left onto some obscure road to get back to highway 58 (which takes me back to I5 which takes me back to Eugene).
At the intersection of whatever road I was on and highway 58 I saw a sign reading Hills Creek Reservoir 1/2 mile. I knew where that was because when I first moved out here one of the places where I first tried fishing was very nearby. And there's a bit of a story behind this place. I first tried it out when the waters were pretty high. I didn't expect to catch much and I didn't, but I vowed to try it again when the waters came back down. And try I did, but I never had any better luck than catching a few small fish or one decent one.
The last time I came here at the end of the day I vowed to give it up and go in search of better water from here on out. Since then I've managed to have some pretty good luck in a number of different places, so I was willing to forgo my ban for the moment being; plus I only had an hour of daylight left. I waded out to my favorite island and could immediately tell the water is down even more from when I was here last. Now there were a couple large boulders protruding through the water surface where before there was just a bump in the water and a back eddy behind.
I had previously fished all of these rocks in slightly higher water, and in three trips I managed to catch just a couple fish. Before rushing out into the water to toss my flies around, I took a look around. There were some large baetis flying off the water very sporadically, not really enough to call a hatch, and there were also some midges flying around as you pretty much see in any mountain stream at any time of the year. No fish in sight though. But come to think of it I can't remember seeing pods of fishing rising anywhere since moving out here, which is sad. I hope I just haven't found them.
Being a bit addicted to dry fly fishing, I stuck with my dry-dropper that I already had set up although I'm not sure if it was dry-fly purism or just laziness. I started tossing my flies on one side of the closest boulder and watched them float downstream. After a short time I got a hit on the dry up top on the drift a ways downstream of the rock. The take was subtle but solid which told me the fish probably wasn't one of the fingerlings that I seem to be quite capable of catching. And when he didn't come straight to me when I pulled my suspicion was confirmed. After a brief but fun fight I pulled him to shore for a quick pic before a soft release.
With that bit of fun over I kept fishing. I had a few more strikes that I missed and one that I hooked but lost. Things were looking up relative to my previous outings here. I moved out a little farther so I could drop flies behind the boulder in the slack water and at the same time keep my line out of the swift current so I could get a good dead drift.
That strategy was a winning one because I very quickly hooked up with a nice fish. He got down deep into the swift water and used the current against me. I got a good fight out of this fish because he really knew how to use the water, or maybe I just don't know how to fight. Either way it was a good catch and again I pulled him onto shore for a quick pick before another release.
After the release I waded my way back out to the same place and started drifting my flies behind the rock. The slack water was a good 20 feet long, so I was able to work it for a while. I got a couple more hits that I missed and I managed to catch two more fish, one nicer than the next. The first was about the same as the last one.
And the second was the best of the day. Probably around 16".
So what is the moral to this story? I've asked myself that and can't come to a conclusion. It might be: if at first you don't succeed, and second and third, and fourth you don't succeed, try try try try try again. Or maybe it's: if at first you don't succeed, give that hole a rest and come back a while later. That actually rings true to me as a fisherman.
Give that hole a rest and come back later.