I decided to take the day off of work, so I took advantage of the nice weather and spent the day fishing the canyon. I arrived at the trail head around 8:30 to find only two other cars in the parking lot. After wadering up and building my rod, I headed into the canyon.
I got into the canyon about the time the sun was trying to peak out from behind the clouds coming over the ridge. While rigging my rod on the banks of the river I found out the hard way I was out of 6X tippet as I pulled the last 6 inches from the spool. It was going to be 5X and 7X tippet for the day. I rarely fish 7X tippet as 6X fluorocarbon is sufficient in most situations, but today I had no choice. With the water clarity 5X was too big for a size #22 fly.
With the limited number of anglers on the water I was able to fish all of my favorite spots on the river, which is a rarity due to the number of fisherman the canyon sees; especially on the weekends. Luckily it was a Friday. Made my first casts of the day in one of them. I started the day fishing one of those spots.
After failing to move any fish besides the one I spooked out of the shallows, I walked up river around the corner to flatter water where I knew of a few slots in the gravel and some less obvious structure that usually holds feeding fish. While working upstream looking for any movement in the water I started finding fish in the shallows, unfortunately I was spooking more of them than I was able to get a cast to partially due to flat light and a lack of stealth. Once the sun got high enough in the sky some of the water’s glare reduced making site fishing the name of the game. Fish started appearing in all the likely spots around rocks and in channels with ample cover. With so many different currents, making good casts is easier when you can see the fish. Sometimes seeing the fish is the only way to get a drag free drift in the feeding lane.
The fish below was feeding in a deep tail out along with 4 or 5 other fish. I had to cast straight up stream taking the risk of lining the fish and spooking the whole pod.
There were some sporadic risers throughout the day that came and went with hatches of midges and BWO‘s, but nothing consistent enough to re-rig a dry. I crossed the river and continued to fish my way upstream. I spotted more fingerlings than normal as I worked my way along the bank.. Some of them were even eating.
I fished parts of the river generally past up, but I did so as some huge fish were spotted feeding where a descent cast could be made to them. One of the larger fish I spotted during the day I was able to hook, but the fight was short lived before he spit me. After what seemed like a drawn out chess match came to an end resulting in the fish winning. I was ready for a break.
The day seemed to be flying by as the sun got closer to dropping behind the ridge already hiding behind the clouds making it seam like it was a lot later than it was. It also seamed as if the fishing slowed down as the shadows got longer. I notice some of the same fish spotted earlier in the day suspended in the water column feeding now laying still on the bottom of the river. It was time to start fishing my way back downstream. I caught a few small ones and missed a couple comparatively larger fish as I worked my way out of the canyon.
Once the sun dropped behind the canyon walls it became difficult to see through the glare on the water’s surface. I switched out to a small streamer to finish the day. There were some aggressive, but inconsistent risers and sight fishing was no longer an option. This allowed me to cover the entire river quickly and work my way down river at a faster pace. As much as I love throwing streamers, it appeared as if my fly was spooking more fish than it was attracting , so I accepted that the day has come to an end and started the walk back to the truck.
Overall it was a great day. The weather was nice with a mix of sun and clouds, very little wind, and a high in the mid 50’s.
River Flow: 110 cfs.
Flies Used: #10 Golden Stone, small RS2 (20 - 24), black midge