The Shallows

The river was chock full of anglers when I arrived at 7 am. Not every spot was taken: just the ones I wanted to fish.

I fished the B water, working my way around anglers. A tightliner above me did well, fishing heavy flies. Relegated to skinny water, I focused on dries.

I started with the Euro dry-dropper and then switched to my dry-fly rod after getting no action. There was good rising activity with splashes here and there. Caddis were hatching and laying eggs. I couldn’t get any takes and just kept plodding away. Eventually, a nice brown took a size 12 caddis. They didn’t want the brown fly today and preferred tan.

One of my favorite glides had low water, and I went back to the Euro dry-dropper and started to get takes. You could see straight to the bottom of the river, and there didn’t seem to be any fish there until they started to take my dropper. I was catching them about two rods away from me, and it was fun to be able to see trout rise up out of nowhere to inspect my flies and occasionally eat one. I’m always shocked when a spot looks barren but is not.

At one point, a dark shadow moved. It looked like a good fish, perhaps, 15″. I wasn’t far from it, and I was surprised that it wasn’t spooked. Miraculously, I made a good cast and expected the trout to take my nymph. But it rose up slowly, saw the Sulphur Cripple, and doubled back to eat it. Game on!

It immediately surged to the other bank and went down river of me. I felt powerful headshakes, applied side pressure, and held on. There were a lot of strong surges, and I wondered if it was foul-hooked. It wasn’t, and a beautiful brown slid into my net. It taped at nearly 19″.

After the sun hit the water, the action slowed, but fish periodically continued to rise. I caught a fish here and there, and it was the same thing at a second spot, which also was comprised of shallow water and at which I could see the bottom. There, I didn’t get any more dry-fly eats, but it was fun to see which patterns elicited a response. A Sulphur Cripple was the winner.

I caught some more fish while tightlining a size 18 Walt’s Worm and, later, on some new size 16 soft hackles I had tied. The pools pretty much cleared out by noon, and I was tempted to stay for the evening hatch.


After six hours, and with my back sore, I instead reeled up and called it quits and headed for Popeyes for a spicy, three-piece meal set. I almost never drink soda, but the app offered me a free one. Why not?

I took my time during the drive to relive the day. I won’t be able to fish for a few weeks due to family commitments, and I relished the chance to get outside. It was a weird day: no one pattern did the job, and I clearly wasn’t dialed into what the fish wanted.

It was a day of learning as well. I often storm right out to target the juicy water. Going forward, I’m going to work the shallows more regularly in the summer “just in case” fish are there. I’ve caught recently some nice browns up top at skinny water. It seems that big fish know where to hide in plain sight and avoid the areas that anglers repeatedly hammer.

A wonderful weekend to all anglers!


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2 thoughts on “The Shallows

  1. Nice day for sure. I’ll give it a try one morning next week and hopefully not much angler traffic for my favorite spot.

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