All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Saturday, August 21, 2010

That Fishing Hat

I decided to drag out my old fishing hat. I used to wear it all the time about 20 years ago. It's a cheap felt hat, but stylish. I even had it branded on the back. "AR" is burnt into it. The brand for a Scout camp I like. It's the camp I used to take Boy Scouts to when I was a scoutmaster. The camp is known for it's horsemanship. Scouts can earn the horsemanship merit badge and spend portions of everyday on horseback. One year the whole troop earned the badge and slight bull legs and saddle soreness. It was fun and in honor and remembrance, I had one of the buckaroos brand my hat. "AR" is the brand for Aspen Ridge, a Scout camp in Idaho up Cub River Canyon. (And you thought I took the Scouts up there just for the horses.)

I've worn the hat on and off, for the past several years, but it has spent more time in the closet. I turned to a ball cap for my fishing expeditions. I don't know why I grabbed it last Saturday. It just called out, "wear me." I enjoyed wearing it. It provided some nice shade for my face and neck. My wife says it was hard to see my face in the pictures because of the shade so it was taken off for a few photographs.

I know some anglers who have "magic" or "lucky" fishing hats. These hats have some special powers that allow the angler to catch more fish. Some of these hats are kept way too long. They become encrusted with sweat and dirt. The owners never realizing that most hats can be cleaned. I have ball caps that have become marked with white streaks of dried salt. If I like the hat, I will wash the salt out and quickly dry it. On hot days, I've been known to dip my hat in the cool stream water and then place it on my head. This helps keep my brain from frying. OK, I agree, brains already fried. The wet hat keeps it from becoming a total burnt offering.

I don't think the hat made Saturday's fishing adventure more successful, but I just felt good in that hat. I caught some nice fish. I spent the afternoon with my wife, thus, the photos of me with the fish as opposed to just pictures of trout when I go solo. She even got in the water and wet-waded up through a couple of sections of stream. Seriously, how many women would do that?
I flipped an air-filled hopper most of the time. I noticed more hoppers jumping around the stream side grasses. Some of the trout would sip at it cautiously and I missed setting the hook. Others took it deliberately.

It was good to get out. I have had two great weekend trips between the thunder-bumper-micro-bust-wind- storms that have been blowing through this summer. I plan to take a week off sometime in September to fish my guts out. Maybe I'll take two weeks. That should get me real acquainted with my old fishing hat again!Oh...sorry for all the pictures of me. Concentrate on the Bonneville cutthroat trout--so handsome!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Remebered Lesson

Early last fall, I spent a day on the Logan River with Cutthroat Stalker (you can find a link to his fine site on my list of blogs) and a couple of fly fishers out of Canada. The plan was to fish Twisted Foam Hoppers and analyze catches. I have always caught trout with the pattern starting about July and on until the snow flies. This particular outing last fall seemed different. We spit up in pairs and fished different stretches of river. The stretch me and my partner fished was slow and we only moved a couple of fish.  At first I thought it was the stretch of water we were fishing. It was flat and barren of deeper holes and pockets. If there was trout, they were not interested in the hopper and we were not spooking them as we waded through likely water. I still content that it was the section of water we were in. I did learn a lesson from Scott (Cutthroat Stalker). I said the plan was to fish hoppers, but Scott was quick to change flies after no success with the Twisted Foam configuration. When we met up his fishing partner told us that Scott had switched to a caddis dry and started picking up fish. I didn't think much of it at the time and figured they fished better water (so difficult for a fly tier to admit his pattern isn't working, especially when it has been a good pattern in the past), but I did log into my mind, that it could be that the trout were looking for caddis--or a smaller fly. Besides, Scott is a local from Cache Valley so he had an edge.

When I hit the Logan a couple of weeks ago, I was trying a larger foam pattern. It's a pattern I have nailed fish with on the Ogden River in late summer and fall. I have heard that Logan Canyon has good populations of cicada. This foam pattern would imitate a cicada well. I had to give it a try.

My first few casts brought nothing and I was fishing real nice water. I moved through several holes and still nothing. Barren water? It seems that is always my first thought. Can't be the pattern, right? I moved quick. I wanted to give the fly a fighting chance. Remember, I have nailed fish with the pattern on the Ogden. Hmmm. Maybe it is the trout? The Ogden is full of brown trout. Do brown trout like a bigger meal? Are the cutthroat in the Logan little bug sippers? I have to think back--no, I've had excellent hopper fishing on the Logan. I've talked to old-timers who say they used to catch "locust" (cicada) in the trees on the Logan and use them as bait. Most of the trout in the Logan are opportunistic feeders. The growing season is short. these fish have to eat during the summer and fall to fatten up for the cold, lean winter months.
I actually caught one trout on the cicada and had a miss. This made me pay more attention and I noticed several fish move back with the pattern but not rise with it. I decide to tie on a smaller fly and see if one of the fish would rise. I tied on a size 12 Chain-stitched Green Drake and cast it over the trout I had spotted. Without hesitation the fish rose to the surface and sipped the fly. I played it to the shallows and set it free. The next few holes produced the same result. It turned out to be a great afternoon of fishing. I guess if I wanted to be real scientific, I could have tied on the cicada and fished it again to see if time of day would make a difference, but when I lost the Chain-stitched mayfly in a nice cutthroat's mouth as I tried to lift it to my hand, I reeled in my line and called it a day.

I walked out to the dirt road and down to where I parked. I have to admit I had a smile on my face. It was a great afternoon of fishing. In fact, thoughts of that trip have kept me in good spirits for a couple of weeks now. I also had a smile because I remembered the lesson Scott taught about changing to a smaller fly.

Monday, August 2, 2010


The Hopper Skipper Jumper! This zany, somewhat crazy, but very amazing pattern is a fabulous attractor pattern. To be released this fall. HOT! That's all I can say right now.