After a night of piss-poor and damp sleep (no I didn't wet myself), I finally dragged myself out of the tent and into the cold. I was the first one up and about besides Eric who had a nice, warm and dry sleep in the back of his car like a true wuss. Shortly after I got up and banged on the other tent people started straggling out.
Someone had the smarts to put a pot of coffee over a stove to warm us up. It tasted like burning, but was warm so I drank some. We started a quick fire to help warm up but had some trouble really getting it going and before long just gave up and headed off to the river. We arrived in the parking lot and were a little surprised to see a couple other cars there too. It was too cold and wet to be out fishing! There was even snow on the ground, although it was quite a bit warmer than last time I was fishing with snow on the ground.
Jonathan was first to get his stuff together and head down the dusty-white trail to the river. Some time later I was next, and I walked on down to where he was to see how it was going. He had caught a few on small RS2's and was good enough to give me one and a shot from his flask to warm my belly. Thanks Jonathan!
Armed with a guaranteed-to-work fly I moved a little upstream, tied on a stimulator and dropped the RS2 off the back of that. I began tossing that combo to a few fish I could see sitting in or beside some seams and runs. I got a few bites on the big top fly by a few fish who were too small to take it, and that was about it. Eventually, however, I managed to catch a nice chunkster in a deeper seam. He came in pretty easy but was a very nice fish with very good color.
I gave him a nice quick release after getting the above pic, and then moved upstream some. I had been fishing from the trail-side bank but quickly realized that the water was pretty shallow and my best attack was going to be from the center of the river, upstream. That way I could stay downstream of the fish so they wouldn't see me, while also getting quite close to them with no trees or banks to get in the way of my casts. And I had luck that seemed to increases with the rising sun. One notable catch was the fourth species of the trip so far: a brookie.
The other species were brown, rainbow, and cutthroat (and/or cut-bow, I still can't tell the difference).
I continued my way upstream catching quite a few smallish fish that I didn't bother to photograph. They were pretty excited to take both the BWO dry and the small emerger pattern I had on at this point. The one annoying thing I have recognized and experienced then was when a fish bites on your dry, he covers it in water and his fish-slime. You then have to wipe it off and/or dry it off and reapply gink or oil or whatever to keep it floating. Everytime, no matter how small the fish which got me a little annoyed every time I would catch a small fish. But I can't get too upset if I'm catching!
For quite some time nothing really noteworthy happened. I kept catching tons of smaller fish and an occasional bigger fish. Eventually, Eric and Jonathan came back down claiming that Eric had hooked into a 30-incher. I'm sure they actually meant a nice fish and were being hyperbolic. They had to leave, so Brady and I decided to move upstream to check out the spot where they had caught. That proved to be a stupendous decision because we spent the rest of the day hooking and sometimes catching 20+" rainbows. And it didn't take long.
We found a spot that looked like where Eric had explained he hooked this mystery fish, so Brady started fishing it and I said I'd move up to the next hole. Brady quickly messed something up, I don't remember what, and just as I finished tying something on, so I started tossing into the spot he had been fishing. Since I'm a much better fly angler, I didn't screw anything up.....which was unfortunate, because when he had his gear ready to go again he moved up to where I had planned to fish and within three casts had hooked a lunker!
He fought it for a short while and I tossed my stuff on the bank, pulled out my net, and moved to the bottom edge of the pocket water he had hooked a fish in. Not too long after Brady got the fish to come to the surface near me where I could net it and get a picture of him with the first of many similar-sized fish.
Brady is about as good as I am, as you can see from the left picture, at handling biggish fish.
We pulled at least one more fish each out of this one hole taking turns catching and netting. In retrospect, we are idiots for not stopping to get some awesome video. Idiot! Oh well, next time.....I will forget again I'm sure. And all the pics of me with fish are on his camera. Hopefully I can get those and add them here later. Here is one more of one of his.
BTW, nice chaw! (and nice hat)
As promised, here is a photo of one of mine.
We continued fishing the stretch of water we were at, moving up and downstream as we fished holes dry. We hooked more than we caught because it is very very difficult to land large fish in very small pocket water. They can quickly dart downstream, over and under rocks and logs, and down rapids, all of which help the fish pop the hook out or break the line.
The coolest part of the day for me was one of these fish that I lost. I moved to the center of the stream to cast out to another spot where I could see a couple nice fish. After just a couple casts one of the fish got spooked and moved downstream past a small falls. I figured he was gone for good so I just kept fishing. About five minutes later, he shot up and over the falls back into the water I was fishing. Just like in the movies and video of salmon moving upstream over large falls. Only I was actually there and it was a little smaller falls, but he did come up out of the water to cross it. And not three casts later I had him hooked!! He shot downstream and downstream he went! I did what I could but not long thereafter he popped off of the 6x I was fishing and stole my dropper. Regardless, it was really cool!
I eventually moved back downstream and caught another dozen or more smaller fish which put my day total well over 30, maybe over 40, with quite a few of those fish being 18" or better. And this combination of quantity with quality, coupled with being surrounded by other feeding fish, and also being able to catch pretty much non-stop all day made today the best day of fishing I have ever experienced! It also helped that after 11am the sun was out to warm me up and made the day quite comfortable.
You should go check out the Yampa! (but I hear it is CROWDED in nice conditions)