April 5 – Caleb Smith State Park –
I thought I was smart to get a good beat, early in the morning, a day after the park is closed. Fish should all be rested, hungry and cooperative. Weather report was for clear skies and sunshine with temperature in the near 60’s (they lied). I did see the sun for 15 minutes around 10:30 and it did coincide with a minor hatch of these beauties.
I chose beat 5 which has a couple of very sweet holes that most everyone knows about, and those who don’t can see them pretty easily. I decide to fish with “friend flies” – that is flies given to me by my friends, in the streamer category. I add one I tied myself, a Grey Ghost. It was Clark’s favorite and this was his river.
So I begin with Wolfie’s Green Woolly Bugger, tossing it in at the top before stepping into the stream. I work it across and then let it slip down under the “boards” where I expect a sure thing.
Mark came by to say hello on his way to Beat 3. We talk of the stream temperature, which he said was 50 degrees this time last year, his journal in hand. There was a monster storm last night which disturbed the clarity and flow but not likely the temperature. As he heads upstream I step in and work the area carefully but Wolfie’s Bugger, which NEVER fails, doesn’t do the trick.
I switch to Joe’s White Rabbit. This is the last of the three he gave me, the other two lost in the mouths of sizable fish. I work the next section with it and think I have a hit midstream so I strike. Solid hit – by a submerged log.
I go to get it out but it doesn’t respond to the usual tactics and it is too early to stick my arm into 2 feet of water. I break it off.
I work my way down to the hole at the bend with Chuck’s streamer, a wispy olive and white delicacy. No response on the first pass so I add a little green weight. I manage to cover the area where the current flows and the back eddie where they usually wait. Next maneuver is to drop it way down into the roots of that bush on the downstream end where it promptly lodges itself.
A tug brings it back and something flutters past me. Caddis? Not sure.
I walk back to the top, taking a few casts in the pond. I don’t think I’ve caught a pond fish here in 15 years but I still try. There was a time when big boys hid in the weeds.
I changed to the Grey Ghost. A quick glance skyward, a brief appeal to Clark to help me out, then under the boards again. As I pass where I had lost Joe’s fly something shiny catches my eye. I stand and look for a while, allowing the fly to flutter where it might.
My vision clears, it is Joe’s fly. Still faced with not wanting to stick my arm in, I am thinking of what I can use. During this senior moment (use the magnet on the net stupid) a fish hits the Ghost.
Another flutter, I snatch at it with my left hand, knocking whatever it is into the water.
I pick it up as another goes by. Dark wing and segmented body. “Looks like a Iron Fraudator” is what Jerry would say, noting the date and cold water. A Quill Gordon (but with a really dark wing like a Blue Quill or Paralep, but in a size 12). Fly identification is not one of my strong points.
I put a QG on but the hackle is really light and the wing is of wood duck (as it should be). It isn’t a good match but I work it with great expectations. It goes unmolested. I switch to a QG Emerger with a CDC wing. This has to be the perfect fly, plus I can fish it through as a nymph when it sinks. Nada.
Mark sent me an email that he left early but had one. Of all the guys there, his was the only one in the net. Such is early season fishing.
Next time I think I will try the mid-day session …or maybe get some more fly tying friends.
Coming soon to the Caleb Smith Gift Shop (or click the book for more information):
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