Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dialed in in wet underwear.

Dialed In

 In

 Wet Underwear

      It's been a slow season so far for me on the Arkansas. I just haven't hit that moment when I fell "dialed in" with all nobs adjusted for the perfect signal. We stopped at the same fly shop as last time and got some of the same advise. I asked if we could return any flies that didn't work and Captain Taylor said, "Of course, these flies come with an absolute guarantee based on your excellent casting, your exceptional fly fishing skills, and your high quality equipment." We laughed about the LinkedIn blog that dealt with the difficulty a fly shop has with dispensing flies and wisdom to anglers of unknown skills and destinations. 
     Well this time I was not going to let any stray fly shop smack get into my head and impede my focus on figuring out what is going on in the moment with mayflies, caddis flies, stone flies, and trout at my feet in the Arkansas.
     I wanted to fish some new areas so Ned headed us to one of the many pull offs we'd not fished before. All the water looked great. Flows were about 550 cfs (kinda wadeable) and water temperature was a perfect 43F. 
     I started off with an orange stimulator as a strike indicator - attractor, a pegged egg, and a sparkle RS2. I changed after fishing some good water to a thing-a-ma-bobber indicator, some heavier split shot and a Barrs emerger , size 20 foam back emerger, and glue gun midge. No hits, no runs, no errors. None left on. I swapped out the midge for a black bead head yellow caddis larva. I removed the indicator and started straight-line high sticking. Two hits but none left on the mandatory 8 seconds.
     Three hours later with the same rig, I ventured into this spot. I picked up a nice brown on the yellow caddis larva. As I was maneuvering to retrieve my flies from ANOTHER snagged beaver branch, did I tell you I HATE beavers, a surprising rock hidden in the mud turned slippery and dumped me sideways into the Arkansas. In 15 years of fishing in Colorado, this is only the second time this has happened. I eventually regained enough balance to push my self upright with my wading stick. Hmmm. My right sleeve was soaked. Water seemed to have entered over the top of my waders and run down inside wetting my right leg and foot. Not a lot of water but I also felt the cold creeping into my crotch. 
     At exactly that moment I heard a gentle splash. A large brown rose again exposing about a third of his body. A rainbow next to him in the swirl of water midway up the right side of this photo did the same. 
     "Well alright then," I thought. "We'll feed them an emerger." I couldn't see what the hatch was. The wind was so strong it was probably blowing them off the water. It didn't matter. I had a fly I love to use in these cases.
     I re-rigged with this caddis emerger I learned to tie from Tom Flagler's Mid-Currents video.  Intuitively I left it unweighted figuring the swirls around the submerged rocks were tossing whatever is hatching all over the water column. I cast it above the feeding zone, let it drift with a tight line of 12 feet of leader and tippet and about 3 feet of fly line hanging from my raised 9' - 7 piece 4 wt fly rod. As it went through the swirl the FIRST time, I felt the tug and nailed a nice healthy 14 inch rainbow. On the next series of about 20 casts I had another 5 fish all of the same class, some browns and some rainbows. I'm dialed in! If I hadn't had a hit by the time the fly drifted past the swirl, I'd just lift the rod tip and induce a Leisenring like lift. Tug, another fish. 
     
     




My absolutely favorite part of fly fishing is shown in this sequence of photos.



This is actually a very nice Arkansas River trout.




     All definitely worth the 3 hour trip home in wet underwear. The fleeced I'd left in the car replace the wet shirt sleeve and turtle neck but why oh, why didn't I pack an extra pair of pants this time.