Fishing Marginal Water

Spring is special. The earth erupts again with life, from birds chirping at dawn to refreshing April rain to outdoor scenery that beckons.

In the spring, I try to hit freestones before they warm up and flows go down to trickles. There’s a particular stretch where I’ve caught all sorts of fish. It’s stocked with rainbows, but I suspect most give up the ghost quickly when summer heat happens. Sometimes, I catch a nice holdover or two, but that’s rare. The good news is that it isn’t hammered that much, and I can have some space. It’s marginal water.

I arrived late morning at a favorite spot recently to tightline some of the usual runs with my dry-fly rod at the ready just in case fish started rising. Usually, it’s a lost cause, as it was this time.

I arrived at the river and was happy to see midges popping and some stoneflies buzzing here and there. Two casts in, I felt a tremendous strike and envisioned a good-sized stockie ‘bow. Whatever it was, it surged four times. Amidst the brackish water, I didn’t glimpse the fish until it nearly flopped into my net.

I was stunned to see a beautiful brown with amazing red spots and clean fins. It taped at 17″ exactly. What a beauty! I’ve fished that river quite a few times and had never before seen any brown trout.

After releasing the brown, I kept fishing with the Hendrickson nymph imitation that had duped the fish (basically, a Frenchie with a red-thread collar). And, it was pretty much lights out for the next two hours.

Later, I added a #18 soft hackle, with the hopes that fish were looking up. They really weren’t: nearly all of my hits were on the same jig nymph.

Half of the takes were on a dead drift, and the rest were on the swing at the end. It was great to feel some aggressive takes. I later switched to a Frenchie that had some orange on it, and it too produced. I’m not sure why, but nymphs with a touch of red or orange tend to do well for me in the spring. I then rotated through other flies and was blanked.

Then, for no reason, the bite window ended. I long ago gave up trying to figure what causes windows to open and shut. I was fishing in some shade, and so, it wasn’t the angle of the sun. The air temp did go up, but there were still quite a few active bugs. Who knows?

There was more water to hit. I hit a second spot and saw some fresh rainbows, but I felt like everything after that brown was anti-climactic. So, I ended the outing and went for some BBQ for lunch.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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