Look at that stream. What a beautiful place. I have fished through that stretch of water hundreds of times and caught countless fish of so many species- salmon parr and smolts, brown, brook, and even wild rainbows, fall fish... I know every nook and cranny. I've watched this place go through quite a few cycles. These last few years have been painful. I am worried for my stream. It is clearly not what it once was. But, even if there were hardly any fish left here I would fish it just to see the sights and smell the smells.
I got down to the valley yesterday and breathed in cool clean air that smelled of hemlock and running water. If you blind folded me and took me to ten different streams and one was my home river, I would know it in an instant. The smell, the sound, and the long walk would tell me exactly where I was.
The juvenile salmon were out in force today, and really they can be a pain sometimes. But I was glad to catch them because they provided pretty constant action. I could not find the decent browns for the longest time though. A dry dropper, single dry, and heavy nymphs just were not getting the results I expected. Then, about a mile from where I started I figured out my mistake. The fish were feeding on a slurry of mayfly and stonefly nymphs that were active mid water column. My presentations had pretty effectively skirted either side of their zone. The heavy nymphs were too deep and the dry and dry dropper were to far up. I stuck on a lightly weighted Ausable ugly and that made all the difference in the world. I was missing and loosing more fish than I care to admit, but I got a couple absolutely stunning ones including a perfect 11 incher. That fish made my day. It fought incredibly well, actually taking some line and jumping a couple times.
Towards the end of the outing I was thinking how it had been a while since I had last caught a rainbow in this stream. Not five casts after that though entered my brain I caught this:
This was a good day, but it is clear that this stream has suffered. We need a few years with good fall flows for these trout to come back to their original numbers. I'll have my fingers crossed that I won't come back from Montana one year to find a dead river.