It's been to long my friend.
Last night I headed the 45' west to a river about 10 miles north of where I grew up. The river is one of MA's best, a freestone that's a blast to fish, and between the state, local fishing clubs, and TU local, it gets about 8 kajillion fish stocked into it each year. Couple that with amazing bug, crustacean and small fish life and this river holds over fish, maybe even grow's some of it's own (trout) and in it's mid and lower reaches has a super fun small mouth bass fishery to boot.
But, if I can, and the water is still decent from a temp perspective (reduce stress on fish, hoping they can hold over) I fish the upper section. It's a C and R area, but runs through a big chunk of state forest. You feel like you are 100 miles from anything when you are there, and oddly, last night I was the only fisherman... must have been the coming thunder storms.
This is the first run I normally fish. A fast chute of water initially that broadens, slows and tails out. I guess you could call it a pool really... It does share some common traits... I guess Ill call it a Pun, or a Rool since it feels like a combination of the two :). the way the light was coming through the clouds and hitting the budding leaves felt surreal.
I started off nymphing, but seeing a few vicious, slashing "rises" I figured emergers were the key, and went to an olive and partridge spider. Weirdly, I got several short takes, often with impressive swirls as the fly was on the dangle... but no solid takes. Hmmm.
Looking in the box, I saw a little olive quill nymph I came up with that was very slim. I tried that and caught nice browns on probably 5 of 15 swings!
All were nice brown's like these. Ironically, i'd brought my 11ft euro nymph stick intending to build my short line fast water nymphing skills... But my inability to resist this spot, and the fact that they were smashing emergers, shifted my focus to swinging. I found that the 11 footer, a 4wt with a soft tip but pretty stout butt section, was great... I was basically single hand spey casting and getting 60-75 feet out to the far bank, giving a mend or two - which is easy with such a long stick - and then letting the current swing the fly from slow to fast water. Killer.
I dont want to say I grew tired of catching fish. That's not true. But the lure of the pool below got me, so I fished the short broken water section between the two and caught a first for me. In 20 years, I have never caught a brookie up here. I've caught a few in the middle section, but never up here. Well a little below the big rock on the far shore, as the new fly - a "test" pattern I came up with that's basically a #16 curved nymph hook with an olive body, silver rib, grizley soft hackle (hen) and a silver bead - was creamed. The fish fought hard, and a gorgeous 15~ inch brookie came to net. While several feeder streams in this area DO have wild brookies, I'm pretty sure this fish was stocked. A big part of me wants to dream he seeks refuge in those little waters during the heat of summer then slides into the river for refuge and food during other seasons... But logic say's he was a stocker. Regardless, fun to catch him.
After a few more in the fast water and the pool below, I was "tired" of seeing a few fish assault bugs on the far current seam in the original pool. There was some sort of massive may fly occasionally coming off. I thought it was a hex, but it seems to early, and the habitat to rocky for them... Whatever it was, it was frigging big! So, what else do you do when you have already caught a lot of fish... You try something crazy just to see if it works. On goes a darn near 2" long Hex dry I have and to work it goes :). It took me 2-3 casts to get the drift right, and wham, a nice brown nailed it. He was the only one I could seduce, so back to emergers it was...
After a fish broke off my "test" fly, I put on a size 12 picket pin. Always a great fly, everywhere... and a nice emerger imitation with the squirrel wing. I took the last few on that, managing to come one short of the "grand slam" by catching the day's only rainbow. Some where a tiger trout must lurk in there, but it's a long and varied river... I best not get greedy :).
Not long after catching this bow, lightning lit up the sky, and I figured holding an 11 foot rod standing in the water was not an ideal scenario if I wanted to see my family again, so I packed up... a bit begrudgingly given how good the fishing was!
That said, it was my first non-small stream trip this year. And it didnt disappoint for sure. Big fish, heavy pulls, really aggressive takes. Really helped alleviate stress for sure!
Driving away, the lightening flashed brightly, thunder clapped, and the rain came down in torrents. But my spirit was high.