Sunday, August 10, 2008

7x tippet and #22 tricos

A couple people were in the shop, one man sat arms folded waiting on the porch looking as if he had been waiting a while. A lady stood behind the counter looking down at some papers. The proprieter and another man stood outside on the street, studying something in the bed of the truck.

I had talked to Steve earlier in the day and told him I would be stopping by. I milled around the shop casually looking at the antiques that adorned the small room.

Steve came inside from the street and finished his business with the owner of the pickup truck. A bright smile and a handshake greeted me, he introduced me to the woman as his cousin. Not wasting time we got right down to the details of why I had came. He laid out the time I needed to meet him the next morning and asked the lady to write up the directions. Next he shot into the requirements for the rendevous. The fishing mission was to be stealth, nothing but 7x tippet and #22 tricos. He spattered on about the required tackle as the man stepped in from the porch wondering when he would get his turn. Right now fishing was more important to Steve than selling another piece.

The next morning we sped south down the highway. Bursting out of the narrow Big Wood canyon we drained into the open irrigated valley bottom. The golden hillsides sat high above with cured grass and sage. The contrast was stark. Following the neat cursive directions we turned off on a dirt road and crossed a bridge over the meandering creek. A few anglers were next to their trucks pulling on their waders. The road edged along a newly swathed field of alfalfa as we neared the log cabin named on the paper. Above the cabin sat an old farmhouse with a panaramic view fit for a king.

The king sat on the front two steps of the house in fleece pants and a camo shirt. Fly boxes were scattered around with a few fly rods. We geared up and talked about the tactics. The fish would be smart and weary. We were going to have to fish down to them rather than attacking from the downstream side. Your position should be concealed if possible. And the presentation, well it had better be perfect.

We walked down the dirt road that led to the fishing access as we caught up on old times. A cool breeze rustled the willows that lined the sides of the creek. Flowing at the base of the Picabo Hills, this high-desert spring-fed creek attracts an abundance of wildlife. Silver Creek's globally unique aquatic ecosystem features one of the highest densities of stream insects in North America, which supports the world-class fishery.

Down at the creeks edge we sat and talked more
about the intricacies of the water. The fish were very smart as they got plenty of fishing pressure. To top it off the water was absolutely crystal clear. And further complicating things, the bugs the fish gorged on were frickin small. Today we would be fishing the end of the Trico's (mayfly) lifecycle, called the spinner. The trico's have hatched and they fall to the water, drifting and spinning along the water. The fish love the easy takings but are smart enough to pick out your imposter fly.

Steve was methodical in his fishing methods. He took out a notebook as we sat down in the grass. Next came the thermometer to take the temperature of the water. Fifty-five degrees, down ten degrees over the last 3 days. He surmised that the hatch would be starting a little later as a result of the subdued temps. In the meantime we watched and poked at the few fishermen that tried the waters in front of us. Steve explained that he employed more of a hunting technique when fishing. Choosing to fish only when he knew what the fish were doing (i.e. eating). This meant that we would sit for a while longer, awaiting the hatch.

The air slowly filled with small bugs hovering above the water. We screened the top water and picked up a few of the fallen tricos. The fishermen around us weren't having any luck. I watched as the one below us decided to move on, he turned his back and I watched at the fish began to top the water. Without hesitation I struck out for that hole.

The fish were beginning to slurp up tricos with a vengence as I pulled out my line. Casting the sixteen foot leader out across the corner I tired for the perfect drift. Again and again I put my fly out amongst the masses of real bugs that wandered on the water. I thought of it as a game of odds, sooner or later the fish's eyes would slip and they would hit mine. I missed a few strikes here and there. Finally hooking into a nice rainbow, he thrashed out of the water busting up the cloud of bustling bugs above the water. A nice 14" was more than a great reward, I figured that I would be skunked on this river for sure.

Driving back home we talked about the day and the frustrations. It had been a two fish day between the three of us. We did not "slay it" by any means. But with that said, it had also been one of my best days. The scenery and the potential was most impressive. The glassy smooth water and the finicky fish had been a real challenge. And the bottom line was that my cousin being one of the best fishermen I know had only caught one fish. I too had only caught one fish.. Tied up baby, until next time.

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