Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fall Freeze Out

Whats cooler than cool? Ice cold.

It's been a pretty cold November here in North Carolina.  This morning when I stepped in the river around 8:30, it was 22 balmy degrees of guide icing cold. It helped concoct what would be a perplexing morning for me. I hoped the chill would keep the throngs off the Dirty D, but the wader clad army was full tilt on this Thanksgiving weekend.  I bypassed the crowds of the usual honey holes upstream of the bridge and near the parking lot, and walked a bit down stream to one of my favorite, and typically less visited, runs.

The water was flowing just over 100 cfs and had been as high as 1000 cfs a few days before after the rain and snow.  The "log hole" i was headed for needs at least 100 cfs to fish well, and seems to be getting shallower over the years as more water gets diverted to the other channel of the river. Upon arrival, I was pleased to see fish actively moving about and even rising regularly to sipp midges. I fished a three fly rig with a stone fly as my lead fly, then an egg, then a midge larvae.  I cycled through the normal midges, and changed eggs once.  I managed to get only one strike from a naive dink in two hours of persistent nymphing. I could smell a skunk. I hadn't been skunked trout fishing in … I can't remember the last time I was skunked.  At least 9 years. Hashtag humble.

I decided to move back to the crowded section near the parking lot and see what was crackin.  I had about on hour left to fish before I had to lay down my trout wrangling (or lack there of) for toddler wrangling. I slipped into to a familiar run, a piece of transition water at the head of a long slick.  The fish were visible, and not as seemingly active as the fish I had left. I still had my version of a Morris Stone as my lead fly, a carolina egg, and the trusty red midge on my 6x SA flouro tippet (buy one get one free at Davidson River Outfitters right now). In less than five minutes, I was into my first fish of the day. Red midge. Soon after I had my biggest fish of the day, a football of a rainbow that ate the stone fly.

A couple near me seemed excited, disappointed, and perplexed after I landed two fish rather quickly, so I struck up a nice conversation with the lady about the finicky Davidson River and my fly choices and tactics. I walked over to her,  showed her my flies, gave her my productive pieces of water, then proceeding to quickly pull 4 fish out of the piece of water she had been previously fishing with no success. I'd been lieing if I told you I didn't enjoy hearing her shout out "He caught another one!" a few times in a fashion uncouth of proper fly fishers. My ego is grateful for her uncouthness.

The 45 minutes of fishing near the couple from Atlanta/my-biggest-fishing-fan, was fantastic. Just before leaving I had that inner dialogue and self-pact that anglers often construct in their minds; "I'll leave as soon as I catch one more."  After I caught the next fish, I deemed him to small to count, so I caught another in about four cast, and then climbed the bank of rhododendron with a goofy smirk on my face. I felt like Babe Ruth calling his shot, except my accomplishment was way lamer and not as significant, and nothing at all like Babe calling his shot. Nonetheless, I left the river feeling like the Great Bambino, having called my own shot.  Thank you Asian Atlanta lady for adding to my delusions of grandeur.  If only I could leave the river like that every time.

As the kidz say on twitter, I left the river smh (shaking my head). Though grateful for the stellar 45 minutes of fishing bliss, why couldn't I get those fish in the log hole to play ball with me? The fish who did impale themselves on my hooks took the Morris Stone and red midge at almost an equal rate.  I stuck one on the carolina egg.  The fish in the first hole snubbed the myriad of my offerings. There were hardly any risers in the section I caught fish in, and plenty of rises in the stretch that kicked my glutes.  I suppose the risers down stream that heartlessly shunned me were dialed in on some emerging midge. The stone fly I was using as a lead fly must have been getting my midge trailer lower than the film trapped midges the fish must have been keying on. STILL… you think in my buffet offering of midge larvae, a few troots would have eaten my midge even if it was lower in the water column. The water was pretty shallow, so it wasn't as if my flies were floating under the fish. A buddy suggested a greased leader, size 26 fly, and hook sets on any visible rise near the area I suspected my fly to be in could have cracked the case of selective sippers.  I'm not sure I'm compelled to fish in that technical of manner yet. I'll just move and find some more willing fishes to fall prey to my current arsenal of tactics… and an excitably city lady with more fly savvy than her hubz to cheer me on.  Until then, see y'all in the funny pages.

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