It has been a frustrating wait – again as in the past few seasons there has been little or no spring rain to speak of and nothing to write home about as far as winter snowfalls were concerned. For 3 weeks I have resisted the temptation to drive the 2 ½ hours to my home waters because of the very low water levels – simple, I don’t like fishing in those conditions and think its unfair on the stressed and skittish trout. But with reports of some patchy rain in the mountains over the last week, Steve Hughes and I decided it was time.
A misty early morning start turned into a bright clear day, wide blue skies, heat and breezes that couldn’t make up their minds which direction to blow in – at times a challenge to present wispy dry flies on light tippets. The stream was still low and to my experienced finger using the now regular, ‘tip test’, showed the water temperatures to be a little warmer than perfect.
We picked pockets amongst the bones of the Bushmans – the fin perfect, spotted wild brownies were there, some willing, others less so – many bolting for cover in a blink at the hint of anything weird or nothing less than perfect presentation and drift. They hid not in the deeper, slow, calmer pools, but in the oxygenated tight spots, under riffles, turbulent surfaces, below plunges and current seams – we used stealth, short casts and high sticking. They were mostly small, around 8 inches and a few trophy beauties that surprised us of between 10 and 12 inches.
The larger dries like Pete’s Hoppers and wide flies like the Wolf Spider, were sometimes closely inspected otherwise an attempt made to drown them rather than strike. It was the smaller flies that did the damage – size 18 Royal Caddis and Para RAB with purposefully shortened squirrel hackle. Also a size 18 Berg Emerger and size 18 ginger hackled RAB that will need the addition of a few turns of white hackle behind the eye if I am going to be able to see this one in the drift – back to the vice it goes.
With the frustration over for a while, I will wait now for the rains to come, for water levels to rise by at least 6 inches and for the trout to be free again to be comfortable in their liquid cocoon – picking pockets can be fun, but give trout a chance.