Monday, April 28, 2014
Willie during a Tweek
Fred Miller and I decided against the Colorado because at 1,200 cfs not even Fred's legs are long enough to reach the bottom. That left the Williams Fork which the dam powers-that-be had been running at a consistent high 6x normal, probably in anticipation of the big runoff starting soon. But when we looked at it on Monday night, they'd dropped the release to about 180 cfs. Hmm. If I was a nice healthy brown trout this could be nice and comfortable after the chaos of 380 cfs for many night. For the baetis, they were probably thinking, "Whew. Finally. The surface is not so far away. Time to spread my wings and get a little sex. "
We had discussed, ad nauseaum the night before via email, how we were going to get to the Willie. Would we walk 1.2 miles in from the Breeze Unit parking lot and then across the bridge over the roaring Colorado? Fred insisted the bridge was not there although Google Earth photos showed that it was there. (Anyone know if that's open to public use without gunfire?) Or, would we take the parking lot just off RT 3 in Parshall and walk 1.0 miles to the Willie near the mouth.
We chose the latter. Fred said, "It's just over that hill...." Then, "Damn. They've moved the river."
We did eventually arrive at the river to find it crystal clear under bright blue skies and running about 80 CFS at 42F. Perfect. It wasn't long before I had a nice brown (about 14in) on a pegged egg. Fred went on to the confluence with the Colorado just in case he could throw his streamer.
We leap frogged up the stream. Fred finally switching to dries when fish started to rise about 12:15 PM. I found a really nice looking spot that unfortunately seemed to have a dead brown lying in state off to the side. Damn. I hate to see that. Then I noticed that the clump of logs and brush it was lying against was actually a huge submerged elk, lying on its side with its rib cage torn open. Hmm. I'll bet that was an interesting story. Neither seemed to me to have been dead very long.
There was a brown feeding just off the far bank which fell to my powers of persuasion on a size 18 caddis emerger.
Just upstream of this rock was another brown taking blue winged olives from the surface. This one launched a monster take of my size 16 parachute adams which I was using as an indicator fly. Scared the s..t out of me.
I stopped to eat my ham and cheese tortilla wrap and a couple malted milk balls and then snuck up on a likely looking pool behind a big rock. I was concentrating on my drift when WHOOSH! What sounded like a 2,000 pound moose hit the water just to my left.
"JEEZE!!!" I gasped and fell backwards a couple steps. I looked to the left and a 50 pound adult beaver was madly clawing at the bank from which he must have slipped when I broke his concentration. He frantically started swimming around the edges of the pool toward me and passed about 3 feet as he disappeared under an overhanding rock. My heart rate was 180, which if you know me, is clearly impossible.
Later I recounted it to Fred who was only mildly impressed since I didn't actually have a hookup with the beaver.
I asked Fred about the dead trout and he said he'd pulled it out and put it on the bank.
I asked him what he thought of the dead elk next to it and he said, "What dead elk?"
That's the wondrous thing about fly fishing in these wild places. Something unusual always happens and we all experience it differently.
Here's another release sequence. Doesn't it make you just feel good all over?