The fishing everywhere seems to be catching fire, so we aimed our sights on a close location. I had class till later in the evening, so this was providential. To our great surprise there weren't any other fishermen around... on a Friday... in the evening... with beautiful weather. Neither Shane nor I won the bet we made as we drove up the dirt road (he said 7, I guessed 4). We headed right for the best looking stretch and like home-run hitters, began swinging away. We both had quite a few fish crush the flies, some of which stuck around to fight, but in the end we lost more than we landed. The ones that we did land were healthy chunks though!
Dark set in and we decided to head out so Shane could make it to a prior engagement. If anyone could have seen us trying to wade out they would have laughed. There were a couple times we almost found ourselves swimming. Deep holes are hard to see in the dark, even with a headlamp. And being secure in my masculinity I asked Shane if he would buddy wade back to the bank with me. It was a brief but good trip, and fortunately we made it home without incident.
I had to work the next day, but had an inkling that I would be done with still enough time to fish. I left the office around 5:30pm and made contact with Shane who was already fishing, and had picked up a couple average brownies. About 6:00pm I was at the river (SF) and was gearing up while I waited for Shane to meet up. He finally showed and we began the respectable walk to what had been the honey hole in years previous. Once we reached the river I immediately knew this was no longer the case and we would have to do some searching. After looking up and down the river, and seeing promising water in both directions, we opted for the downstream route because it required less bushwhacking.
As we headed down we hit all the great looking water but with nothing more than a couple little bumps. Looking at the water, you could tell that there were fish there, but that something was not right for the catching. By this time the sun was behind the trees and the air was cooling. The moon was peaking over the hills and we could tell it was going to be full and bright.
Shane and I had tried to do some night fishing last week but something came up. I had packed my headlamp in my backpack so I would be ready when another opportunity presented itself. Fishing through the night was not the plan for this trip, but all the stars seemed to align. Just as the light of the sun was fading, the light of the moon grew brighter. We could see the water and there was almost no need for a headlamp. There was something beautiful about standing there in the water, listening to the running river, with a cloudless, dark star-speckled sky above and an amazing white orb overhead. It felt right and I knew that if there was any night to be fishing, we happened right into it by luck.
We kept hitting the water with little success until we found some rising fish. Swinging the streamers shallow, going from the fast to the slack water began producing what can't be described as anything else but fishplosions.
Fish-plo-sion: n [fish puh low shun]
1. The awesomeness that is a fish exploding out of the water, with the intent to destroy, mutilate, and eat your fly.
2. The mess that ensues when some kind of firework is placed inside a dead fish. (Think of the movie Tremors, with the dynamite and rope.)
It happened again and again. Cast. Swing. Fishplosion! Sometimes there would be some very slow stripping just after the swing, but the explosive results were the same. We were struggling to hook up for the first hour. The monsters below were short striking more often then not. I had one hookup, that produced a continual fishplosion out of the middle of the river. It was a big fish, but threw the hook after a few glorious moments of bent 8wt. I picked up one average guy, who had been savoring a tasty little whitefish. After a while Shane managed to hook up with a solid fish and the fight was nothing more than epic. Watching the water explode in the moonlight was something I will never forget.
|First monster of the night.|
We moved around and found that there were two productive spots. We would fish one until we hooked a decent fish and then go back to the other. Fish would move in after we let it sit for a bit. We probably could have kept doing this for a few more hours when we chose to leave, but thought to leave it on a good note.
It's pretty amazing to see the different colorations on fish. Even fish of the same species can have such differing patterns and colors. I included a few of the same fish here because I can't get over the spot pattern he has. The spots were almost like a leopards spots. And this fella had one gnarly kipe!
Shane picked up the last behemoth of the evening and we decided it was a great way to end a spectacular night.
I can't seem to get those fishplosions out of my head. It has me thinking of other places that could produce similar results. I have also been inventing new fly patterns in my mind to give the ideal profile in the water, the right depth during the swing, and a respectable stinger. It was one of those trips that puts you on a fishing high that lasts for days. This trip will always be remembered as a first because of all the crazy fishplosions in the moonlit night.
Shane also has a great write up of the trip over at The Fish Hunter Chronicles Check it out!