Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Bite sized Brookies on the Middle Fork of the Dearborn
A couple weekends ago I went for a weekend stay at my friend Scott's cabin on the middle fork of the Dearborn River. Nestled in the woods off Highway 200 to Lincoln, MT sits a picturesque cabin in what seems to be in the middle of nowhere, only to be hidden a couple hundreds yards down off the highway. Further down along a beaten path, a horseshoe pit sits alongside a quaint little stream that meanders through towering lodge pole pines. One look at this raw beauty of nature gets the blood pumping with thoughts of fish and flies. It was getting near dark so I had to calm myself and wait till morning to head out on this little gem.
The following day, after a long night of drinking,
I rigged up and made my way downstream in search of a little run, riffle, pool.
This water is nothing of which I am used to by any means. One look at it and you begin to think "How can this hold any fish? It's so tiny and shallow". The water at its deepest point is shin high, reaching only an average of 6-8 feet across. With a 9' 5 wt. rod in hand, I knew I was going to have to stay low and take a stealthy approach if I were to have any luck. Walking along the tight bank I immediately spot a nice undercut bank followed by a quick riffle. I move around some trees, maneuvering my rod through the foliage as I come into better view. My body casts an angular shadow across the hole and I see 4 to 5 fish spook and duck for cover. "Damn! I'm a F#@%ing idiot!" I say to myself. Two dart upstream while the rest swim for cover into the undercut. I figure I still had a chance to entice one with a dry I would present right next to the front ledge of the undercut. I tie on a tiny Royal Wulff and with a cunning grin I drop the fly in the tail out of the riffle on a direct path of my target. "Right there... perfect... take it..." BAM! I quickly jolt my line up, completely missing the strike only to get snarled in the tree above me. UUGGGHH! I compose myself and try again, and again, and again, and again. Damn fish are getting the best of me! A dozen or so strikes and the same result. I begin to raise the rod a little later, counting to three for the take. Still can't land the damn thing(s). So after almost two dozen casts and more than a dozen strikes. I decide I better check my fly or change it. I reel up, take a look at the wulff and sure enough, no F@#$ing hook! A perfectly tied fly rest on the end of my line, yet no hook. I must have busted it off in the tree on that first cast. I had never felt so humiliated in my life! At least I was alone, and nobody had to witness my foolishness. I surely would have been made a mockery! I retied on another Wulff, the one with the sharpest hook in my box, and went after it again. This time I would not fail. Sure enough, the starving little beast took the fly perfectly on the very next cast and he was on! This little fellow was fighting for his life! Up, down, around until I finally just yanked him up onto the shore. It was a beautiful plump little brookie. 11-12 inches.
His color was an amazing bronze. This was the first I had seen all year. As triumphant as I felt for finally catching the little rascal, I could immediately see he was very tired. It was quite the struggle for such a little guy. I snapped some quick pics and released him back into his watery lair. This would be the biggest fish of the trip.
I later fished a few other holes and runs only to find many 4-6 inch and two 8-9 inch light-colored brooks. Amazing as it was I even caught a 5 inch brookie on a size eight Dave's Hopper.
Scott came out with me for a while to show me some spots upstream. I gave him a brown San Juan to try along side an underwater log. He drifted the worm along side the tree and after a couple hits, he had the fish on. It was fun to watch as he reeled in the 10 inch brook.
Overall I had a blast on this wonderful little creek. In all, I estimate I caught a little less than 30 fish, many of them small, but just as fun as the first. I was amazed that the size of the creek could actually hold fish in the smallest of runs and shallowest of riffles and pools. A great couple days in my books and hope to make it up again. There's just something about a small creek nestled in nature that can make you forget about everything in the world, cast your troubles away and just live in the moment... free.