Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two For The Price of One and the Elusive "Midnight Sippers"

A beautiful little ghost cabin near the perfect run on Belt Creek.

The last few trips to a great spot on Belt Creek the last couple weeks have yielded satisfactory results. Fish have been rising to the fly like crazy with a few hookups on nymphs as well. For on one recent trip, I was able to experience a primordial event in my days as a fly fishing angler. I decided to throw out a Wulff on top with a small gold lightning bug dropper and four casts later I watched as an average rainbow slurped the Wulff and a split second later, a smaller rainbow take the dropper! I had two fish on simultaneously! At first I didn't know what had happened. I saw two flashes and began to reel. The line was heavy for about a few moments as I reeled in the dose of trout until the bottom fish slipped off the hook as it gained some slack. It was a moment I had never really thought about previously, let alone fathom would actually ever happen. I was able to land the first as well as miraculously deep set the dropper hook into the palm of my left hand.

I'm glad I had my forceps on me, otherwise the hook was staying until I got home that night. The pain was null as the adrenaline from the event alone was enough to forget about it after I began casting again, my mind dead set on raising the next unsuspecting trout.

Prime time on this creek is during the last two hours of the days rays disappear over the canyon walls. I find myself intrigued with this certain spot, a perfect run that tends to hold fish consistently. Fish average from 12-15 inches with a few monsters lurking in the 16-20 inch range. These guys are timid until 20 to 30 past sundown. Then the frenzy begins! Like clockwork, I know when to put on a larger fly to entice these bad boys from near range of the current seam and sometimes just off the banks. The smaller fish are more geared towards smaller patterns such as flying ants, and dark colored mayflies while the larger brutes snack violently on hopper and stimulator patterns, and the infamous Royal Wulff. When this little window of opportunity presents itself, I am usually blind casting the dry, for at this point the water is dark, only dimly lit by the backdrop of the early moon and spent rays of the sun. I tune into any noises on the surface of the water in the direction my fly is traveling, raising the rod at a moments notice. I have been able to successfully hook about 5 to 6 of these "midnight sippers" as I like to call them, each one putting up the fight of a lifetime. The angle and current at which the battle occurs is gut wrenching as the quick flow of the tail out is perfect for these fish to take a out ton of line. Tightening my drag and reeling them up current is a uphill battle from starting line to finish. It amazes me the 5 - 7 minute fights these guys have in them. Worried about increasing the odds of their mortality, I find myself knee deep in the run most of the time reeling and following the path of the trout downstream in hopes of getting them near the bank and out of the tiring current. Out of these 5 or 6 big boys I've had on the line, I have only been able to land two! That's right, I guess my inexperience has yet to really pay off. I finally bought a net recently as all the ones I lost were due to my lack of skill when it comes to getting close enough to the fish in order to land him. Frustrating, but I realize it's just part of the game. The two I was able to land were a 16 inch rainbow and a 17 inch brown. The brown was caught in relatively no light so no pic and the rainbow, I was able to get a snap with just enough light left.

The biggest fish I have had on my line at this spot came tonight as it was 45 minutes after sundown just after I had finished cleaning a 12 inch rainbow that didn't make it after a deep hook. It was dark, but I knew a brute had to lurking as I have become well aware of this over the past month of fishing here. The hook set came at a moments notice with an orange stimulator and this fish was heavy, close to 2.5 - 3 pounds. He took two head shakes, spooled out about 10 feet of line, jumped, rolled and snapped my fly off neatly at the knot. As he came down and splashed, the sound was like that of large log being dropped into the water. A sound I won't soon forget. "Damn!" I thought. There was nothing more I could have done, maybe some heavier tippet, but I guess I'll never know.

It's fish like this that keep me driving 40 miles out week after week in hot pursuit, aiming to achieve success in finally landing one of these elusive trout. I know they reside here, and it's only a matter of time before I am triumphant, finally leaving the fish feeling the effects of absolute defeat.

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