Plans and Perseverance

A warm welcome to Daniel Seaton, who will be posting periodically as a guest contributor! Many thanks to Bill Hager for making the intro. We are always looking for guest writers, FYI!

I have been eager to get out on the local rivers, but weather and parenting duties have kept me from chasing spring trout. After several unsuccessful attempts to schedule a day off, I finally found a Monday that worked.

I wouldn’t be able to depart Boston until after 9 am and would need to be back by bedtime, but had a packed plan for the day and an eagerness to test out Devin Olson’s Blow Torch (and other flies purchased from Tactical Fly Fisher).

My first spot was a favorite of Bill Hager’s: fast water, pockets, several long runs, tricky wading, and reasonably close to the car. Given that I would update Bill on the drive home, I figured he wouldn’t mind me seeing if this area still held fish. My plan was to fish my way through the pockets and runs to the other side of the river. I had a fond memory of Bill catching a dozen fish near a fallen tree one year, and I could see a few different structures across the river that might hold fish.

Aggressive action started within a couple of casts as soon as I entered the river. My second cast produced an aggressive take, but alas, my drag wasn’t set properly, and the fish easily shook off the fly. Two casts later, another aggressive take that I missed, but this time couldn’t blame the drag. Fortunately, after shifting to the back of the run, I was able to land a fish. I was only a few feet into the river and had high hopes this would be a productive section.

However, I am not blaming the guy in the canoe who was switching between paddling and using a “quant” style pole while standing. I still have no idea what this gentleman was doing, as he came up and down the river in the fast water I planned to work, guiding his boat from pocket to pocket, run to run. It was mesmerizing in some ways, but also a little frustrating, as it felt like I selected the only place on the river where a person was training for the Summer Olympics.

The gentlemen eventually made it up the river, and I continued my plan to work my way across, fishing pockets and runs along the way. Alas, no more action in any of what seemed like stellar water. Perhaps worse, after fishing and wading about 3/4 of the way to the other side, I realized that my path was too risky to make it to all that structure I had scouted. There were a few close calls as the water was higher than I anticipated. After slowly making my way back, I headed back to the car to regroup.

Another favorite spot of mine (thanks, Bill) was on the agenda. It’s a fast water section with pockets and runs, but with numerous backup plans if the fish aren’t in the fast water. As I turned down the dirt road that follows the river, I was greeted by a dump truck and excavator blocking the road.

A nice young man exited his state vehicle and said, “The road is closed for the next two days.” I am fairly certain he sensed my sadness, and he quickly turned and got back in his truck. This was a real disappointment, as I love this part of the river and can usually expect a couple fish. Given my current score, I panicked and headed to a well-known spot on this river with a glimmer of hope.

Nothing happens at this well-known spot. We should all stop fishing it. But seriously, I have had some great luck here in the winter or on days when I am the first one at this spot. However, I am certain I was not the first to fish in this spot, as it was around 1 pm. I did not encounter a fish, nor did the multiple guides and their clients around me.

What I will say is that this spot looked remarkably different since I had been there over a year ago. The high spring flows seemed to have transformed the trails in and out, while also having moved a significant amount of structure that used to hold fish (especially during dry-fly season). After trying tightlining, throwing indicators, and a Hail Mary X-Caddis to one rising fish, I decided it was time to move on.

When I got to the car, I was really struggling with where to try next. Given the number of people, fishing seemed to be increasing, I didn’t want to head upriver to be disappointed by full spots in the trout management areas. So I did something peculiar and headed back down river to an area Bill and I had success a few years ago. He had some intel on this area the first year we fished together, and we did ok that day, but not well enough for it to make the rotation. I was hoping to find a spot off the beaten path.

After being tailgated by an angry New Yorker, who passed me and beat me to the spot I was hoping to fish, I found parking along an area that Bill and I hadn’t tried before. It required a bit of a jaunt down to the river, noting I slipped onto my back no less than three times, and when I hit the river, the water seemed good but also a bit complex in terms of depth and structure.

I went back and forth between tightlining and indicator fishing, slowly working my way up about 40 feet from where I started fishing. Then quite unexpectedly, I got an aggressive take, accompanied by a bright flash underwater from a second fish moving away from where I connected. After landing that fish, noting that my drag once again was slightly too loose, I went back to observe two Palomino trout aggressively darting and feeding in soft water along a significant current. I had arrived at a small, but amazing pool that I had never fished before.

I pulled two more rainbows out of the back of the run, all while watching the Palominos proceed to actively dart up and down the run. I decided to move up and target one. About 10 casts, I caught a rainbow, which I thought was one of the golden geese, but alas. The rainbow, unfortunately, unhooked himself and released my rig into a tree behind me, breaking my tight line set up at one of the tippet rings of my two fly set up. So I had to let the Palominos rest for a bit while I got reset. 

With fresh flies, I stalked up to the top of the run, where Poth palominos were still dancing. Success! I hooked into one who immediately jumped out of the water, shook vivaciously, and broke my rig at the tippet ring attached to my Euro sighter.

A break at this point has been extremely rare for me (noting, that I have always borrowed tight line sections from Bill, and they never break). As I restarted the set-up process, every time I tried to attach 5x, 5x Strong, and then 4x, my line would break at the ring. This has never happened to me, but I could hear Bill saying, “It’s the worst when you can’t trust a tippet ring.” I never really understood what he meant until this moment, guessing some type of microabrasion happened on the ring, causing it to cut any line that I tried to attach. So I rerigged a tippet ring for my sighter, then proceeded all the way down to my two-fly setup.

I should also note the Palomino took my favorite indicator when it snapped my set up at the sighter. I got it in Colorado a few years ago and it’s just always been good to me. I wondered if the Palomino would still have it in its mouth. Quick note, I often switch on an indicator for my tightline setup to get a little more distance in a run; it’s been efficient and worked better than carrying an extra rod for indicators.

After fishing a while and not seeing any bright flashes from the Palaminos, I wondered if I had spooked the run. After thinking about leaving, I looked down and saw an indicator about the shape of my favorite one stuck to some debris under water. It was my indicator, and it still had my two-fly set up attached!

I decided to step back and see if I could spot the Palominos and found one still actively feeding closer to where I had come down the embankment. I was able to fish toward him and managed a take by tight lining. I had battled an albino rainbow a few years ago on a Colorado trip with my brother, which I ultimately lost, and was excited to let him know I made up for it. I decided to fish up to the top of the run before heading home and had one last nice take. After a healthy fight, my rig blew up at one of the tippet rings, and I decided – “I need to get back to Boston.”

And a quick note on the flies I was trying. The Blow Torch was amazing this trip, but that might be partly because the caddis were quite active that day.

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4 thoughts on “Plans and Perseverance

  1. Daniel, great post! One time, I bought tippet rings from an eBay seller, and they seemed to have sharp edges that cut through tippet. Not sure if this was the source for you, but I now only buy tippet rings from Orvis, Cortland, or fly shops.

  2. Hey Daniel, it’s great to see you on the blog. Well done! You and I both have a lot of gratitude to offer to Bill. I loved reading your story. I remember being on some of those holes together with you and Bill many times before, and I hope we can do it again sometime.

    1. Great to hear from you Chris! We indeed owe a lot to Bill. Happy to get together on a future trip.

  3. Thanks Jo! My best guess is that the ring might have developed an abrasion or two that trip.

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