Thursday, November 10, 2011

Surface action

As much as I love fall and everything about it, the sun cresting over the mountains further and further south each day signals one thing that I do not look forward to; the unofficial end of the dry fly season.  Yesterday I was able to get out on the home waters with my son for a short afternoon trip.  My hopes were not high for surface action, the wind was blowing, the sun was bright let alone the fact that usually by November 9th dry fly opportunity is over on our little home river.
I decided to try a small canyon stretch, hoping the canyon walls would block some wind and keep direct sunlight off the water thereby increasing our odds.  We arrived in the early afternoon and promptly had a change of plans.  A cursory glance showed no bugs hatching and the wind had actually picked up.  After picking through the fly box and the usual "what are you going to tie on" conversation I decided to try a streamer while Marshall was going to go with a double nymph setup.  My hopes dashed and patience running thin, I left Marshall to his indicator and multiple double surgeons loops knot-fest.  I no sooner descended the small canyon to the water's edge and promptly saw a fish surface in the foam line six feet from the bank.  I decided to wait for Marshall to chase the riser so I halfheartedly ran my streamer through the next run downstream.  When Marshall made it down we decided to take turns throwing to what turned out to be 3 or 4 fish feeding somewhat rhythmically on the surface.  The fish were in a pool that was deep enough to preclude us from telling exactly what they were feeding on.  There were a smattering of sizable mahoganies (fairly late in the year I know, but then again everything was behind this year after the prolonged winter and spring)  some little caddis, and very few tiny mayflies.  I assumed they were blue-winged olives although the few we did see somewhat close didn't look much like bwo's.  Oh well, fish were feeding on top and I'm no entomologist so with a size 14 mahogany cripple I went to work.  Cast after agonizing cast I watched as my cripple drifted right through the foam without a look.  I decided next that a 6x and size 20 mahogany was necessary.  Different fly, same result.  Same result with a goddard caddis.  Finally Marshall spotted a ratty old parachute adams in my box and suggested I try it.  I silently questioned myself about how well I taught my son about flyfishing, surely he knows that fish this late in the fall requires matching the hatch with a fair amount of precision.  That being said with mounting frustration and daylight fading I thought "what could it hurt?"  After all a parachute adams is one of my go-to flies.  So I tied on the adams and cast my hope to catch one more fish on a dry this year.  After what seemed like an hour I finally got a decent drift in the swirling foam line and saw a snout break the surface and my fly disappear.  Far from a trophy, the average size cuttbow was exactly what I needed on this particular November afternoon.

After taking the picture and offering congratulations (without so much as a "I told you" or "aren't you glad you tied on that adams?") Marshall was eager to try for one last fish on the dry.  Marshall dried the fly off, laid out a decent cast and promptly stuck a fish!  After a picture and a high five (again not a word even though it took him exactly one cast and his fish was bigger)  and
without really any discussion we both knew it was time to call it a day.  We had asked a lot of our home river, a lot of the patron saint of dry fly fishing, and a lot of the fish gods period, better to not press our luck! 

As the sun sets on our dry fly season I now look forward to feeding my steelhead obsession next week!

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