Monday, January 20, 2014

Epic Day

Traditionally the word "epic" referred to a long story surrounding a heroic main character.  Today the word expresses wonder or awe at the overall awesomeness of something.  When the word first gained modern popularity it was almost annoying how often people were using it. Epic fails, epic wins, epic stunts, you name it and you could find it being done, epically.  Fortunately, the "epic" spouting has calmed down.  The word has been changed forever thanks to the flexibility of the English language.  There are some word trends I wish we could forget. "Porn" this and "porn" that. I may sound like a prude, but I would be glad to see that word stay a red-light district term and keep away from the world of angling, but that's a whole other topic.  As for the word "epic", it was overused for a time, but I'm okay with it being around today. And sometimes things are just... well... epic.


I awoke to the unobtrusive sound of crickets issuing from my phone.  "Text me when you leave your house" was the message I sent Shane the evening before.  Rubbing my eyes, trying to read the text, I made out "Wakey wakey." Ha ha, good old Shane.  Groggy but determined I forced myself out of the bed I had crawled into a mere three hours previously. With determination I had stayed up till 3ish in the AM to ensure a whole homework-free day on the water.

I pulled into the gas station parking lot, threw stuff into Shane's pickup, we grabbed some breakfast, and headed out for some unseasonably warm, winter fishing.  The sun crept over the hills, slowly illuminating the sparse cloud cover with hues of pink, red, and blue.  Good vibes were in the air as we pulled up to the water. That new fishing trip excitement is infectious. There's something about a whole day full of angling possibilities that gets me giddy. I think most serious anglers can relate.

Suited up, we started beating the exposed riverbed with our wader clad feet. The best fishing spots require foot work (without a boat), and we put that theory into action most outings. Ice cracked underfoot. First casts... Shane's indicator sunk, set, fish on!  My indicator moments later... dunk, set, fish on!  A double on the first casts of the day.  It was as if the Beach Boys were singing their immemorial tune "Good Vibrations" in the background. It was a sign of good things to come.

And so it went throughout the day, the weather was great, the flies did their trick, goodhearted banter with jokes went on, and the fishing was productive.

The fly that did the trick for almost all my fish was a white bugger-like fly tied on a Gamakatsu 211 Jig hook (tutorial to come, eventually).  Jig flies are something I have been experimenting with for about a year now, with great success.  They're nothing new to tie flies with, but rarely seen being fished on a fly rod, especially under an indicator.  Apparently it works.  I fished white in tandem with a hotwire hare's ear trailer the whole day, and Shane fished olive with a san juan worm trailer.

You really never know what you're going to get on your line in any given day, location, or run.  The fishing had already been great and it was not yet noon.  We came up to one of our favorite spots and began catching fish pretty quick.  After we had been there for a bit I decided to drift one right up close to the bank.  The indicator sank and I thought it might have been a snag. After the precautionary hook-set (because you never know) I felt a heavy, throbbing headshake.  A few moments later I could make out the form of a stout fish, doing what Adele would do if hooked, rolling in the deep.  I hollered at Shane, and being the faithful friend and fishing companion he is, he scooped up his net and hurried over to help.  Once landed we could see it was a beautiful hybrid.

A few casts later, a little more upstream, but in the same run, a similar thing happened.  This time it turned out to be a hearty bow.  This was one of maybe three fish that took the hare's ear the entire day, but I think that was because I fished it on a tag end a couple feet above the jig fly, so as to not hinder the jigs swimming motion under the indicator.  One thing I have noticed with these jig flies is that twitching your indicator is actually a good thing, where it gives the fly movement and the weight of the jig still keeps the fly "in the zone."  Often the indicator would tank immediately after a twitch, similar to fishing with chironomids.

I'm not entirely certain what is was about this day, but the big hybrids were out and hungry.  A little later in the day we were exploring some water that looked promising.  Shane's indicator did what we like it to do and he connected with another fantastic hybrid.

On one instance my indicator went down and I set only to find myself hooked up with what felt like a carp, or massive trout.  Carp have a distinctive bulldog fighting style and with their mass they do not move around as quickly as a trout does.  It fought well for being in nearly freezing water.  It was a wonderful surprise, and on a white jig fly no less.

There is something about trout colors in the winter.  They get so much brighter and the fish appear so much healthier.  It would be a crime not to take a picture of how beautiful some of these fish are.

Not much later in the day, and in the same place Shane picked up his dandy I set into another thick hybrid.  I have no idea why the hybrids were so active, but I'm not arguing!  

Shane stuck another beaut, unfortunately the camera's settings got changed when it was stuffed into a backpack, and I didn't think to check them.  I think you can still get a sense for the quality of fish it was from the pic. 

It was one of those trips that leaves you on a fishing high for days.  It felt like "indian summer fall" kind of weather and the fishing matched.  These are the kind of days you walk your tail off to get.  Was it worth staying up till 3 in the morning?  You betcha.  I can probably count the number of these kind of days on one hand.  Sorry to overwhelm you with pictures, but sometimes they tell the best story.  And what better way to show how a day on the water can be, than to show some beautiful fish pics and tell you it was simply... epic.