One might call this weekend a "six of one, half dozen of the other" fishing trip. In other words it had its high points and low points. What was really unusual is that the highs were really high and the lows, were well as bad as fishing gets - meaning no fishing. Or more precisely the water we wanted to fish was un-fishable. It feels a lot like getting skunked, only we didn't have too much time to dwell on things since the three of us, Lance, Kelly and me, had driven about 4 hours to get to our prize stream only to find it high with run off a week or so early.
I met a fly fisherman packing up his camp near the stream who called himself Bob the contractor from Cedar City. He had been there the whole week and said it was crystal clear and fishing superbly until last night. So he was on his way to some other place that he supposed might still be good and which he failed to mention the name of during the long conversation we had. It went on about 15 minutes longer than I'd like and bouncing from about 15 different topics. Mainly he had the usual fly fisherman rants about bait fisherman and rednecks (he used them synonymously, but since I know plenty of rednecks that don't fish, I separate them in my mind). But as I tried to find different ways to hint that I was going now, since I was meeting Lance and Kelly near the campground, his volume increased followed by more and more libertarian conspiracy rants.
So as far as I can tell, Bob does not believe in bait fishing and he would NEVER EVER keep a fish, even if it was 24 inches. He swears he's caught dozens of fish over 20 inches in the stream I wanted to fish (but wouldn't get to fish today) even though I've at most caught some heavy 16 to 17 and 5/8ths inchers. He resents having to pay for a fishing license since some of the money goes to bait fisherman and stillwaters and stocked fish, but he will pay for a tribal fishing license. And even though the Ouray tribe still forbids you from fishing a certain section of stream unless accompanied by an tribal member, he fishes that section anyway since that's where the 20 inchers are (once again on a fine little creek known for good quality fish in the 12-14 inch range). Out of respect for the tribe he parks his car very far away from the special regulations section and hikes down to it. Bob refuses to get health insurance and he resents having to pay for medical care out of pocket.
At that point, I thought I heard Lance and Kelly calling my name and backed up slowly to car smiling and nodding and waving good bye.
15 minutes later Lance and Kelly finally drove up in the tricked out Westfalia Sprinter camper van.
We were all pretty disappointed with the stream conditions.
This is the time when you have to go back over all the water that we drove past on the way down that looked like it might hold fish.
Luckily, Lance had spent the week perusing Google maps for some "blue lines" along the route down to our rendezvous. Blue lining is explained in detail on a number of great blogs like Midcurrent, and basically means scanning a map for thin blue lines that indicate streams and creeks that might hold overlooked fish.
We had 3 good candidates
1 - a creek that flowed into the reservoir near by (but it would be hard to access due to private land)
2 - the Sevier river - there are WMA access points along the road, but we spotted a few fisherman already on the water as we drove down.
3 - a thin blue line about half way between where we were and home.
Option 1 was out because we just didn't want to be shot at today.
We opted for fishing the Sevier since it was close and none of us have tried it, saving the thin blue line as a backup to our backup.
The Sevier was muddy and we couldn't see the bottom or any fish. So we had to go with nymphs and streamers. The water above the parking area looked great and should have had tons of fish in it, but turned up nothing after 30 minutes of slogging it. Below the parking lot there were a few deeper troughs running along the banks where some good sized fish were taking my dark brown Platte River Spider. It was our saving and grace and we were able to catch a few trout each on nymphs and streamers.
But it was somehow, not satisfying - maybe because the water wasn't so pretty, and although there were a few handsome cutthroats in the 18 inch range, there were a lot of hatchery fish with mangled fins and even a brown with no fins. That's right, Kelly caught a quadriplegic brown trout.
Quick vote. Head toward home and hit the thin blue line on the way. If it was good Lance and Kelly would stay and camp and I would continue back to Salt Lake, shower and sleep in a real bed next to my wife.
So far, places that we knew had fish in them were either unfishable or not enjoyable. Now we were detouring about 30 minutes from the road home to scout a creek we knew nothing about.
The lower section was boggy with a big beaver pond. Kelly did not find it promising. Several miles up there was a campground along the stream that was well kept and would be a nice place for an overnighter. The stream here was pretty tight with plenty of snags.
Lance and I were immediately hung up on branches and reeds along the bank.
Kelly extended his Sato tenkara rod (triple zoom was used to great effect) and caught a nice 8 inch rainbow.
Often the fish would take the dropper as soon as it hit the water, making it look like you line had snagged. There were some 14 inchers in surprisingly shallow water. We hooked into about as many fish as we landed.
The three of us took turns leap frogging each other up the river - if you got hung up or caught a fish, the next angler in line would creep and crawl into position (these were spooky trout in tight water).
We fished until we hit 50 fish landed and at least 50 more were hooked but lost to logjams and boulders.
It ended up being a great day.
Over dinner we debated over different names for the creek, most of them are lewd and X rated.
50/50 creek sounds about right. Half the day sucked and the other half was a memorable surprise.
i don't normally keep a tally of how many fish I catch, but today it seemed like we needed a spectacular run of fishing to remind us that there is ALWAYS great fishing somewhere.