All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Hundreds of hoppers flushed out in front of me as I walked through the grasses near the river's edge. Each step produced another wave of airborn kickers. The trout do not receive pressure. This is water very few others want to fish. It's too small. The fishing is hard, even though the trout are easy. No cloddish mortal walking right up to the bank or flogging a rod and line through the air without first thinking is going to have much success. It's a hunter's game. Stalking. Sneaking. Casts are short and pinpointed. Snagging bankside growth the norm.

I learned a few lessons. Maybe I'm thinking more? The grass is tall waist high at least and sometimes up to the arm pits. It grows right to the creek bank and in areas overhangs into the water. It is hard to make a normal cast where your line lands on the water and you pick up slack as the fly and line float downstream toward you. Most casts are made with the line laying in the grass and just the leader and fly plopping into the water. Sometimes, the cast is more of a dapping proposition. Sometimes, just the fly and a couple feet of leader actually hit the water. Throw away all that long cast nonsense you learned at the latest sportsmen's expo. If you have more than about fifteen feet of line out, you're out of control.

If you move slow and use the willows, you can sneak enough to see the trout before you cast to them. This is very visual. The water is low and clear and spotting the trout is very easy. Spook one, or two, or three and they race for cover notifying every trout upstream for maybe thirty or forty feet, that something is up.

As the hoppers jumped out in front of me some would fly to the other side of the creek. Others would land in the water and were immediately eaten by trout. This was easy pickings. The rising trout could be caught by casting my hopper imitation to the exact spot it just ate the natural. Was I chumming? I didn't intentionally add the natural hoppers to the water. Or did I? I knew that by walking through the grass with that many hoppers, that some would end up wet, but what could I do to stop them? Nothing! I kept fishing.

When my imitation hit the smooth, slow water, several concentric rings of disturbance would migrate out. Soon a trout would be inhaling the pattern and the battle was on. These were quick fights. A couple thrashing spins, a quick run, and the trout was then lifted out of the water to hand, or if it had some weight, slid up the bank on the grass. Some of the trout were unexpectedly nice and plump for such a small water. If I could not see my fly as it floated near the overhanging grass and undercut bank, I learned to watch for rings of a rise and sometimes the sound of a rise. This was an interesting way to detect a take and actually something the trout had taught me.

Some of the trout I could spot before I cast to them but I would say that over seventy-five percent of the trout I caught by watching for rise rings, listening for a splash, or by watching a trout quickly appear for the take soon after the fly hit the water. One several casts, I was casting to water that had no trout visable. I would cast into the barren water and then watch as a trout would race downstream to the fly, sometimes moving as much as ten feet. This I tried to understand. Did the trout sense the fly with it's lateral line, or did it see the disturbance rings and then come to investigate the source? The trout were not seeing the fly until they had turned and rushed downstream to consider the origin of the disturbance. Most of my dry fly fishing is casting a fly above the trout and letting the current carry the fly into the trout's window. To have trout ten feet upstream, turn and race downstream to a fly was different and fun. My gut feeling was that they could sense through their lateral line, but some it seemed to hesitate and turn to race downstream after the disturbance rings had rippled overhead.

This outing heightened my senses. I felt closer to my quarry. I somehow felt we were on equal terms. Yes, I fooled a few of them with my senses of sight, feel and sound, And, some of them got the best of me with those same senses. I enjoyed the day!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer"

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were arranged in columns
before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

--Walt Whitman

Throw out all the numbers. Throw out the sizes. Throw out all the jargon. Wander off to a stream by yourself and in the mystical moist air, from time to time, hook a trout, look at it in silence, then look around. That's all.
I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories.

--Washington Irving, Tales of a Traveller

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nothing Wrong with Quiet

The eagle wasn't always the eagle.
The eagle, before he became the eagle, was Ukatangi, the talker.
Ukatangi talked and talked. It talked so much, it heard only itself.
Not the river, not the wind, not even the wolf.
The raven came and said, "The wolf is hungry. If you stop talking, you will hear him. The wind too.
And when you hear the wind, you will fly."
So he stopped talking.
And became its nature, the eagle.
The eagle soared, and its flight said all it needed to say.

---as told by Marilyn Whirlwind (actor, Northern Exposure)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Average Brown Trout For This Stream

Some sections of this stream had very smooth flat water, as seen in the background. I had to be very sneaky and make well-placed casts.

Clear Water and Feeding Brown

Another Brown From Cache Valley Stream

Little Brown

Brown Trout From Cache Valley Stream

Fish were feeding in the middle of the afternoon sipping BWO mayflies (as best as I could tell). It was surprising to me. It was 93 plus degrees. I thought the fishing would be better in the evening, but 3:00 PM was prime feeding time!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Rises in the Heat

Rises in the Heat
Interesting afternoon. I left at 2:00 PM and arrived on the water around 3:30 PM. I figured the fishing would be slow for the first couple of hours and then start to pick up as the evening shadows grew long.I spooked two trout as I followed a trail down to the stream edge. I stopped and became more stealthy. I looked up the stream and watched as three brown trout pushed their heads out of the water in what were feeding rises. I thought, "What the heck would be hatching at 3:00 in the afternoon on a hot ninety-three plus heat wave of a day?" More heads appeared. I stared at the seam, looking for any sign of floating bugs. I saw one riding the current and fluttering, drifting, and then lifting off. Then I spotted another one, this time closer. Grayish wings, small 18 or 20 sized hook would match it. BWO's? That was my guess.I already had a size twelve Twisted Hopper tied on so I thought I'd give it a shot. First cast, Wham! Twelve inch brown on. I quickly pulled him to the end of the run so he wouldn't spook the other fish. As I released him, I noticed more heads upstream and also some fins. Some fish were taking emergers right under the surface. I cast the hopper up into the area of rising fish. No takers. After about fifteen drifts and trout still rising, I decided to tie on a Chain-stitched BWO to the hopper as a double dry rig. It worked out to be the right move. I took three consecutive browns on the mayfly each around thirteen inches.For the remainder of the evening, I took a fish or two from each likely run. Most hit the mayfly but every once in a while, I'd pick one up on the hopper. Eventually, the trout stopped rising. I decided to take a couple home for dinner (which I fried up and ate tonight for dinner, burp, thank you very much). I caught them, cleaned them, and put them on ice and had them home and cooking in less than two hours. Fresh and tasty.The funny thing is, I thought I'd have better luck in the evening, but the fishing just turned off at about 6:00 PM. I fished for about 45 minutes longer, hitting perfect water, with no hits. The water then got that gun metal sheen on it, that I hate so much. Experience has taught me when the sun hits the water at that weird angle, the surface fishing goes sour for a while. I decided it was time to leave.