The Eyes Have It

With night temps plummeting, I last night debated if I should fish this morning. After a few seconds, the answer rang clear: of course I should! Another 3:30 am alarm time.

I already had tied up some new streamers, both articulated and regular, and I was eager to see where the fish would be. Could I get them to move? Could I tempt some to take a bite? And, I love fishing during tough conditions. The river is usually nearly devoid of anglers.

When I eased into the Farmington this morning at dawn, the air was a bracing 18 °F. I wore my winter-fishing gear and felt comfortable overall. No one else was out.

Quickly, I was onto a fish, which dropped right away. I had raised the rod tip instead of strip setting. Tightlining muscle memory lives on!

Soon after, a good-sized trout took, I set correctly, and I eased it above me like you’re supposed to. It then pulled hard, went into some sticks, and my streamer popped up, all alone.

I was fishing some fast 41 °F water and was surprised that fish were there. Were they looking to eat? Were they done spawning and were slowly dropping back (which is why I was targeting that particular area)? A mystery.

I went to another stretch, rotating streamers along the way. It was good to be casting a great deal and to cover a lot of water, as both warmed me up.

Eventually, I ran across some redds, avoided them and the areas below them, and stopped fishing. I decided to move. Redd alert.

With the sun now up, I wasn’t sure if fish would still grab streamers. I debated putting on a bobber and an egg fly, but quickly dismissed that idea. It was to be a Big Streamer Day. When I’m new to a technique, I will force it to learn it. Might as well.

I came across a wide tail out loaded with underwater boulders, an area that I’ve always walked by. It looked like a great resting area for fish. A few casts in, I felt a vicious grab, strip set, and was on a brown-trout sled ride. Yeehaw!

It wasn’t huge, maybe 15”? But, it had all the nice-looking fins you’d want to see at the Farmy.

Soon after, there was another grab and another dropped fish, which I think was a short strike. The streamer was above the fish, I saw a trout rise, and felt a hit, but I didn’t see its head shake after I strip set. These things happen.

I’m fine if I lose a fish, moreover, as the consolation prize is that I now know where it is and will return to tempt it again. I’ll be back, my pretty.

The tail out strategy was a good one, as yet another brown showed itself.

Soon, it was 1 pm and time to head back home for a family event. But, first, I stopped by UpCountry to pick up supplies. I needed materials for Tommy Lynch’s Drunk and Disorderly streamer, and they of course had everything. And, it was good to chat with Grady and Torrey.

A delicious Reuben to go from Better Half Bistro was a perfect coda for the car ride home. Meat and cheese. The perfect combination.

It was only a two-for-five day, but I felt that I had learned much from just my second outing with articulated streamers.

For example, today, slow swings and dead-drifts didn’t work. Smaller streamers were blanked. For whatever reason, active retrieves with huge streamers were what fish wanted. I suppose that “shock and awe” sometimes is the right strategy, even during a cold snap? Another mystery.

Finally, none of my newest streamers worked! Last week’s hot streamer, which accounted for 12 takes and has big-and-red dumbbell eyes, again ruled the day. None of the new ties had eyes on them.

Kelly Galloup says that eyes on streamers are a strike trigger. After today, I believe it.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

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