Adjunct to our float-trip, we fished a couple other spots to fill in the space before and after the epic day of Cicada madness. I've known about this canyon stream for years but failed to make a trip there a reality until now. I had a chance to fish it last year during the fishing trip with my cousin and Bishop Jan. But BJ pulled rank and ordered another day of farming trouts off the back of the boat. I think everyone I've spoken to about this stream has essentially called it their "heaven on earth" and I found out why.
We initially planned to fish this stream the day after our float and fish somewhere on our way to Bedrock, but nowhere else stuck out. So we thought some reconnaissance work was in order and headed here. When we arrived at the trail-head we only saw a group of picnic goers and a lady from Europe retiring her fly rod for the day. It was torture to hike down the canyon, not because the hike was strenuous, because the hike passed so many sections that screamed to be fished.
We hiked about halfway down the canyon and decided to start fishing back up. There was an abundance of overhead trees with grabby branches. I was having difficulty caging my anticipation to fish this famed stream and spooked a nice 16"+ bow in the first run as I fumbled up the stream in a sloppy manner. I stopped and realigned my mind to focus on what I was doing. Soon after I hooked a brown behind a rock and it immediately wrapped my line around a submerged branch, dislodging the hook.
As I walked upstream to see if Sam or Craig was faring better, Sam was having a photo-shoot with a beautifully colored Rainbow. I stopped to help take shots while Sam modeled with his catch. I found a more open section of stream with some nice holes and runs and began to finally stick a few. I tied up a half-dozen cranefly larva with my rip-off variation of the "Utah Killer Bug"...that yarn is difficult to locate so I had to improvise with psudo-antron and dubbing. But it worked well as a dropper below the Stoned-hopper and found the most love that evening.
When I reached a primo spot we peeped on the way down, Craig was connected to the fish of the evening while Sam scooped it up in his net. I think he caught it on one of the flies I tied so I'm taking 25% of the credit and I'm pretty sure Sam will take his cut too; to be frank it was a team effort. It was a great moment to share with the Fetzer duo and smiles were shared from ear to ear.
As the light faded, we quickened our step and became more choosy with the spots we fished. More fish were put to hand and it primed us for the following day of Cicada debauchery.
At the beginning of our second day on this stream, we danced with the idea of hiking to the bottom. I packed a couple drinks but less than I wished I had. Once we reached the previous stopping spot Sam and I colluded to press forward. We stopped to view some historic graffiti just off the trail, this one made me think of the backcounty.com logo
We passed another angler that was very friendly and informative about the fishing. He had a chill aura about him that must come from fishing this stream often and his personal putting green in his front yard. He was the only other angler we saw the entire day.
We reached the end of the stream in hopes of a few more cicada caught greenies but were met with the ragging torrent of chocolate milk madness. We still pounded the water and caught a few in the transition from clear to mud. I saw a massive Brown rise into the clear water and dive back down to the mud. I hadn't had any more love from my current flies so I decided it was worth re-rigging in an attempt to catch that bruiser brown. Just as I was about to make my first cast with a new set-up, a large raft began B-lining towards me and rowed into the clear water cove. I mumbled some unmentionable phrases and decided to fish somewhere else.
A short distance up, there was a slow moving pool full of large trout. I had a few follows and long looks but my skill isn't to the level of catching these fish. It was fun to try although fruitless. I switched between a hopper-dropper and #14 dries. All produced depending on the characteristics of the spot being fished. I was hoping to see some adult Stones but no dice today.
One of my favorite fish of the day came just after lunch when I threw the hopper-dropper in the middle of a swift current that led my fly under an overhanging branch. My dropper got spanked and a nice Bow showed me a good time. I ended up chasing it down-stream, tucking my rod under and around branches as the fish tried to lash them together with my line. I was able to coax it to my net and Craig took my hero-shot. I had a few more adventurous fights but most ended in my defeat.
When I came to a long run with open room to cast, my hopes became a reality when a feisty Bow plucked my Purple Haze from the water's surface and ripped line off my reel. I haven't had the blessing to catch a fish that tested my reel's drag that often. In fact I can only count a handful of times a fish actually took more than a few feet of line off my reel. It made a lovely sound as the fish tried to swim to the headwaters of this small stream. I missed a couple opportunities to net the fish myself and then Sam did just about as well as I did to get the fish to net. It ended up tying a square knot around Sam's legs and letting itself off the hook. I forgave Sam for his poor net-job, I've paid the same service to others many times. Sam took over fishing this run and I was a bit surprised when another fish came out to play after my fugitive fish raced around the same run just moments before.
We fished from the bottom to about the middle of the canyon when the lack of hydration began to take it's toll. I made the decision to call it a day without any dispute from Craig. Sam kept stopping to fish likely spots while I wasn't sure how I was going to drag myself up the next couple miles of trail. At one point I contemplated drinking from the stream and dealing with the consequence later. But luckily I was able to put one foot in front of the other and eventually made it back to the Jeep. I had ice cold Gatorade and water waiting in the cooler, but the back lift-gate doesn't unlock with the button. Before I could reap the rewards of my cooler, I was required to climb back and sift through the haphazardly packed items to reach the lever in order to unlock the door.
The following day Sam and I tried our luck at Six Fingers and were very hopeful by the lack of vehicles at the access point and abundance of cicadas present. But to our dismay we didn't even see a fish in the 100+ yards of river we fished. We decided to move locations as my hall pass was quickly losing validation before I was to meet Katy and the boys at my parents. We fished the frog-water stream Katy and I enjoyed last fall during our over-night camping trip away from parental responsibility. The first fish I caught was visible hanging at the back of the run and it took my offering in full HD to Sam and I. It was hard to pull myself away from the stream but it helped the trip wasn't just a fishing trip but also a catching one.