I went on a reconnaissance mission to gauge the progress of the run-off at a local haunt I hold dear. The past couple years I started at 2nd creek and worked my way down the mountain as the water calms and clears. As I drove higher up the mountain, I could see there was much more snow then years past. As I pulled off the highway onto the dirt road that leads to 2nd creek, my heart sank; the road was completely covered in 2-3 feet of snow. But all hope wasn't lost because while driving up, I noticed Willow Creek and the canyon just below wasn't as high and dirty as I had anticipated.
I knew I wasn't likely to hook-up on top, so I tied on my favorite pattern for such an occasion...a worm. I'm not talking about those wiggly, slimy tubes of meat that come in Styrofoam cups, I mean a San Juan Worm and its many bastard offspring. In the last year, the worm has become a staple in my fly box. Some might call that digression in the sport of fly fishing, but I just call it common sense.
I experimented with a few other patterns, but none worked as consistently as the worm. It only took a few moments to figure out the code for catching these fish. When I found slow, deep water among the ciaos of whipping current, I tucked my cast as close to the edge as possible and pounded the hole until it wouldn't give up any more fish. Most of the good holes I came upon rewarded me with multiple catches. Even if I missed a strike or two, if i was persistent, I would eventually catch my prize.
Pounding a run or hole over 20 casts is foreign from my style of small stream fishing. I usually give each spot a few tries and move on. But since there were only a handful of good holes, I took my time. I started with my 5wt, but soon grew tired of raking the fish right in. These fish are not brutes by any means, but when I switched to my 2wt it really got fun. I caught nearly two dozen browns and bows up to 11-12" within a couple hundred yards of the stream.
I took a lunch break before moving down into the canyon below Willow Creek. Beef and vegetable stew was on the menu and it hit the spot.
Within moments of wetting my line in this new section, I was into multiple fish. But as I moved further up the canyon, the walls narrowed as the catch rate fell off. I only picked up about a 1/2 dozen more fish in this section before I headed home.