“I thought I was stuck on a log” has been a common statement from fishermen over the past week as they pause to reflect on the experience of landing plus sized brown trout. Strip-setting a 6-8 inch fly into a 5+lb. brown in heavy current does feel a lot like snagging the bottom of the river, until it starts shaking its head. You can usually tell right away what class of fish you’re dealing with.
A 20incher shakes his head quite rapidly, bouncing the rod tip around, but a 2 footer makes slow, powerful headshakes, bending the rod deeply with each tug. These are the fish we’re looking for – trout that bend 8wts to the cork. They rarely jump like their rainbow cousins, and we prefer that since an aerial fish rattling his gill plates stands a decent chance of throwing the hook.
They rarely make long runs like salmon and steelhead, which is also fine with us lest we have to chase them down. There’s really nothing elegant about fighting trophy browns. It’s a close range, down and dirty brawl. Forget the reel. Strip down tight. Keep em’ out of the logs, keep the pressure on, and they’ll be up alongside the boat shortly. Then just hope he fits in the net the first time.
Flows were dropped back to around 11,000cfs yesterday afternoon, less than half the previous volume over the past couple months, so we’ll have to wait and see how the fish react. Essentially streamer strategies should remain about the same – big flies fished around structure and drop-offs should continue to pull big fish. Current speed will be slower, which makes getting down easier, and many spots that were too fast before will be perfect now. It will be interesting to see if these flows remain steady or if we will get the day to day, hour to hour fluctuations that we’re used to. Weighted streamers that were so popular and effective through the flood waters will still be useful on the hard fast banks, but it will be necessary now to have a selection of more buoyant streamers like regular Schmidt Double Deceivers, Lynch’s DDs, DDDs, Johnson’s Sluggo, and Dally’s Lap Dancer for the softer, slower banks. Indicator fishing will once again be a real threat with the fish being more concentrated and holding in more manageable depth/current speed. An Arkansas Beadhead shad imitation will serve nicely as weight and attractor. Trail it with an egg pattern, Prince Nymph, or Wotton Super Midge.
Flows have been reduced to one unit (around 3,000cfs) which makes for perfect boat fishing conditions. Try streamers fishing with Sex Dungeons, Boogiemen, and Barely Legals around structure and drop-offs. Or rig up indicators with Arkansas Beadheads, egg patterns, Prince Nymphs, UV Hunchback Scuds, and Super Midges fished close to the bottom.