Stream trout

I do not live in the heart of trout country but a small stream not far from my home flows surprisingly cold and clear and the state fish and game department stocks it with rainbow and brown trout.

It’s been stocked for years and while a regular contingent of locals follow the stocking truck it is otherwise largely overlooked. Maybe this is because is flows in the shadow of one of the best bass lakes in the country.

I was in the neighborhood a couple of days ago on other business and decided to stop. Just to take a look at the water, of course.

The summer drought had taken a toll. The creek was low and clear. You could have waded its length and barely been wet above the knees.

I scanned the water for fish and saw none. Then looked again and spotted a half dozen. Trout lazing in the current, near woody cover or hugging the bank.

I retreated to the truck and strung up a rod and for no reason whatsoever decided to use a No. 18 Copper John.

At the edge of a gravel bar the water sluices along the bank then spills into a pool about the size of a bathroom. (It’s a small stream.) Some woody structure was clogging the sluice run.

A rainbow was lying near the bottom and nearly in the shadow of the wood; a branch about a thick as a man’s wrist. I dropped the fly with a few inches of the fish. Nothing. Another decent cast and drift but the fish remained motionless. This happened several times. Me, kneeling in the gravel and close enough to touch the trout with my rod tip; the fish ignoring me and everything I was offering.

My friends Terry Garvin and John Durbin will stand for hours and cast to the same fish with the same fly. I am not blessed with their perseverance. I clipped the Copper John and prowled through my box and, again for no reason whatsoever, pulled out a No. 12 Prince Nymph and dropped it upstream about a foot from the trout’s nose. The fly was too big for the fish, the water or the cover I was fishing. I roll cast and the fly hit the water with an audible “plunk.” I thought, ‘might well be throwing rocks.’ But then the fish moved and took the fly so slowly is was like a dream sequence. I watched, stunned, and nearly forgot to set the hook.

I was using a 2 weight. The fight was short but spirited. I rarely keep fish but almost without thinking cleaned this one, broke down the rod, drove home and lunched on sautéed trout.