February 18, 2014

Redemption on Poker Creek

I started a second job working weekends at a rural hospital in Nevada. I'm a male RN, but my day job is more like a male secretary that gives shots. I've mostly enjoyed doing "real nursing work" at my second job, especially the ER, but it's been a crazy last few months between the holidays, working an average of 50-60 hrs/wk, and not being able to fish much. And when I did fish the conditions (i.e. catching) were sub-par. I found myself becoming more and more grumpy, snapping at the smallest things. I knew, and all those around me knew, I needed a break.
I was able to get out for the first time in many weeks and decided to cash in the full value of my hall-pass, so I planned to be gone all day. I fished this little stream last year, around the same time, with mixed results. I've been praying more lately and today was no different. I prayed, pleaded more like it, to have a great day fishing and to travel safe (the last fishing trip that had any hint of real success ended with a smashed in hood).
I purchased an Eagle Claw FG rod from Wal-mart a few weeks ago for ~$20. It's floppy, bright yellow, and bends to the cork. I thought it would be a good little rod for the boys, but I wanted to take it for a spin today. It took a little while to get the casting stroke down, not sure how much of it was the rod or me being out of practice casting in tight, wooded conditions. But once I had a few minutes on this stick I could cast the fly right where I wanted it, usually bypassing branches in my back and fore-cast. I caught a couple bows and browns on a dropper before I came to a large beaver pond. I didn't get any love on my set-up so I switched to my trusty tobacco bugger. I pulled 4-5 fish out of the pond before I decided to move on. It was fun to watch the fish strike the bugger at the last minute, and when it struck and I missed, a quick re-cast and dead drift often elicited another aggressive strike.

I switched back to a hopper, dropper, dropper rig after the pond and couldn't get myself to switch to anything else for an extended  period of time. The rig consisted of a stoned hopper, #16 PT, and #12 prince nymph all about 8"-12" apart. I tied the bottom dropper to the the eye of my top dropper, which I've never really tried before. I'm not sure how much this made a difference because I never re-rigged it since it worked so well. It seemed the more beat up the Prince nymph became, the more the fish wanted a taste of it. I caught fish after fish, many times 4-5 in a run. The colors on the bows were astounding.

I came to a dog-leg pool that looked great but gave up zero fish last year. This year 80% of the current bypassed the elbow of the pool. I knelt down and cast across the main current into the pool. I caught 2-3 fish before they lost interest in my fly (all on the prince). Then I noticed by accident I could elicit a strike when I stripped my flies away from a snag. The next cast landed in the small current that fed this pool. With my first strip the water exploded and I raced to my feet. I was in hand to hand combat with a hefty brown and the only tools I had was 4x tippet and a noodle rod. I put the wood to the fish and was surprised how well the $20 rod performed. When I landed the fish (literally), the small #16 PT was barely in its mouth. One more run or head shake would have dislodged the fly. The brown, although skinny, measured out just over the 20" mark!
I continued to catch fish the next few hours. It almost became stupid how well this water fished today. Last year there were at least 4 other fisherman on this water, today I didn't see a single one. I guess CVA hasn't pimped this spot out this year. I definitely had my prayers and pleading answered the way I wanted. I'm going to be tying up some more prince nymphs and I won't worry too much about the durability of the peacock hurl!