Late Sunday afternoon I got the bug to fish after spending the weekend working outside and playing some golf. I knew the river would be super low, but also knew the recent chilly nights and warm but not hot days would keep the water temperatures cool enough for the fish. When I got to the river it was about 5:30 PM and Mr. Tightline Productions, Tim Flagler, was already there getting geared up. Tim is one of those guys that even though we hadn't talked in a few weeks, we just pick things up where we left off and move forward. By the time we had our gear on and rods rigged, we covered a lot of ground both literally and figuratively.
It was a beautiful late summer evening with clear skies, the sun low in the Western sky, and a light cool breeze carried the undeniable smells of Autumn - drying corn fields, freshly cut straw and hay, and leaves nearing their last days of forming canopies to protect shade lovers from the high sun of summertime. When we walked up the river, I was stunned at how low the water level was. I dropped my thermometer in and after a few minutes checked it to find temperatures in the mid 60 degree F range. After a quick assessment, we decided to head downstream to a few deeper runs and pockets.
I stopped at a deep pool that had good flow and was in the shade. Tim continued downstream a bit intending to hit a few relatively deep riffles and runs. After watching the water for a few minutes I decided to tie on a small, weighted Walt's Worm since no bugs were in the air or on the water. My leader was about 10-11 feet long, tapered to 5X. I did not add any weight to the tippet, the current was slow enough I thought that the weight of the fly would get it down naturally if I cast it carefully with a slight upstream mend. On the second cast, after a short drift, my line twitched ever so slightly and I set firmly into the jaw of what turned out to be a good-sized, beautifully colored pre-spawn brown trout.
I worked the pool slowly after that continually watching the water surface for rising fish, but to no avail. There were a few dark caddis in the air by now and some late season light cahill spinners. As the sun fell and the sky darkened, random fish would rise here and there, but they were all "one-and-done". So I patiently plied the currents with the small nymph working hard to maintain drag-free drifts in differing levels of the water column. After some time I was rewarded with a nice rainbow trout that was a few inches bigger than the brown that was strong and determined, jumping several times before I got it to net.
Soon Tim had headed back up and when he reached me he told of a couple of decent fish he caught, also on subsurface flies. We had only fished for about an hour and a half, but it was wonderful to be back on the water immersed in the subtleties of flowing water and all that thrives above and within it. The time is unstructured, but everything else is clearly defined by the ever changing boundaries of nature.
Sharpen your hooks.