January can be a cruel month for fly fishing. Yet, fellow blog team member, Ashu Rao, and I decided to roll the dice.
With drizzly rain and clouds all around, it seemed like an OK time to throw big bugs. The streamer game is a low-percentage technique, usually, but what’s the use of having some homemade ones if you don’t fish ’em? (And, if you can’t fish, making six-inch articulated streamers is a great way to kill time while you sit next to the fireplace and play old tunes.)
I hit a favorite stretch and found nary a bump. So, I switched streamer colors and doubled back to hit the run again. That’s when the luck of 2021 struck. I connected with a nice brown that was directly below me. I strip set, tightened the line, the fish rolled up top and the barbless hook popped off after a mean-looking kype burst through the surface to give me the stink-eye.
I’ll be back for that one.
With water high, it was easy to see the dark and quiet seams where trout may hold. Plus, I’m not a fan of the bobber unless I can help it, and so, I kept throwing big streamers both out of curiosity and to keep warm.
I walked to a different spot where I’ve had previous luck and found no takers. Ashu and I chatted as we fished and worked our way down river. It’s good to fish with an old friend.
There’s a particular tail-out that always looks so fishy but leaves me empty-handed. But, this time, I felt a thump at the slow-moving-and-bubbly water. A very strong fish pulled and pulled. Surprisingly, it was a chunky rainbow hanging out at a stretch that is far, far away from where rainbows are normally stocked. A journeyman.
The seven-weight did its job, and I was absolutely thrilled to see a dazzling fish aggressively nosing the net and eager to be free.
Ashu and I hit some more spots, and it was very slow-going. At one point, I switched to a Euro rod. A fish gently sipped a slowly moving CDC soft hackle pattern (I was “floating the sighter“). I saw a very large brown trout rise, shake its head, ponder its situation and then go bat-s**t crazy. This was the Fish of the Day for me, I thought.
After some back and forth, I started to gain line and thought I might have the upper hand. The fish, of course, presciently predicted something else. It suddenly tore towards the middle of the river and broke my 6x on a rock-and-timber pile at which I’ve lost many flies over the years.
Now, that was a wily fish. I’ll be back for that one, too.
Ashu and I kept plugging away, visiting one spot after another. We tightlined and threw the bobber. I mixed it up by swinging wets and throwing the big bugs. After eight hours on the water with almost no breaks, I was pooped. Ashu is a marathon angler, and I did my best to keep up with him.
It was a typical January outing: hopes can be high, and the fish usually have other ideas. But, it was a great time to be outside. And, who knew that big articulated streamers would be the best technique of the day?