A new year can not be considered as such until I have caught a trout from my home river. So today I went to my favorite place in the world with the intent of catching at least one wild brown trout, the first of the year. And I was not going to leave until I succeeded.
The decision was made early on to go downstream, drifting and bouncing streamers. I have had success doing so before when the water is brutally cold after the spring thaw. Today the conditions were somewhat like that: rapidly rising water blew out the ice, the water was discolored and cold, and there was a lot of it. Flows like these make dead drifting small flies in pocket water difficult, so even though smaller flies may be preferable I prefer streamers and large nymphs. Today I started out with a mini sculpin, then switched to a chartreuse zonker in hopes that it would stand out against all of the drifting junk and at least give me a chance to see a follow or a flash.
The streamers did not produce the desired effect so I reverted to rolling a bead head hare's ear soft hackle along the bottom of slower lies. I was not having much luck getting any sort of response, but then again many days like this one have ended in a skunking on this river. These conditions are not my favorite to say the least, but if and when I do catch a fish on a day like this it is often impressive. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that nothing was happening when I came to this pool:
I have named this pool "The Magic Pool" because on spring days during the hendrickson hatch, when every other fish in the river is focused on moving nymphs, the fish in this pool are always looking up. I looked at it today and said "this is gonna be the one". I made five drifts along the near side in the tailout, one on the far side, one more... then I set the hook. It was instinct. I saw something different and set. The fish was not big, but a familiar face. I caught it this spring during the blue quill hatch and two years ago in late December a half mile away. Interestingly the fish that I have caught more than once I have almost always caught more than twice as well.
So that's that. I feel much more like it is a new year now.