I got my full day of trout fishing in earlier this week so I could be home this weekend with the wife and kid. I never thought I’d be a dad (things change) but I’m very happy that June is in our lives. She turned 13 months yesterday and on Saturday her mom and I had a discussion re:outside/fresh air/trout streams for a while. The weather was going to be warmer with a lot of wind on Sunday but I know of a few valleys I can hid in. One of my favorite streams runs through a tight valley. I called up Ryan to see if he was interested in going out with us, the conversation had a preface, everything would be on my daughters terms and schedule, her willingness to be outside would dictate how our day would go. I’ve taken her out a few times now and she has done surprisingly well but I know one of these times she may not be so accommodating and understanding that, preparing for it and respecting it are how I plan to avoid a total disaster on the creek. We decided that we would try for a longer day on the water and with it lunch, a nap in the pack (assuming she would pass out) and hopefully a few trout. Regardless of how the day went I’d get to be outside with my daughter on a trout stream.
We left to pick up Ryan at 10am. Air temp was 37°F when we left, a little chilly but I’d prepared for it. We made a pit stop at a store we needed to swing through and then made our way to the creek. Everything goes slower when you have a small kid around, I understand and accept this, I think the results speak for themselves. I have to thank and commend Ryan who is totally cool with my kid. When things slowed down so I could tend to her he was either super patient and hung out or just left to go fish up and do his own thing. I guarantee she will be calling Ryan “Uncle Ryan” in the future.
So the fishing…low and gin clear water on a creek that rates very high on the difficulty scale. The lower section of water is slower and the trout are spooky, it’s easy to tip the fish off to your location and push the entire group up into the next run of broken water. This results in an agitated mass of trout who are less likely to hit your fly even when you get a great cast into that broken water. In some instances it’s best to walk all the way around the slow section and fish only the broken water. I’ve sat on some of those slow sections to fish dry flies but with the water conditions being what they were even a well presented dry fly would result in scattered trout. I swapped flies multiple times early in the day, first a heavy hairball (too heavy), then a light streamer (too big), then a #12 Wilted Spinach (got a few looks but no commitment) and then a #14 Pink Squirrel. I managed a few between the various flies I offered the trout but not until we moved further upstream and the creek changed to one of deeper runs did the #12 Hairball start nailing trout. The deep runs offer cover and result in willing trout who are less spooked by a heavy fly impacting the surface of broken water.
June hung out in the pack, I showed her a Heron as it flew overhead, a birds nest that had been abandoned and every trout I caught she got a good view of. She took an hour long nap and then woke around 1:30. I found a quiet area in the sun and out of the wind where we stopped for lunch. She’s very independent when it comes to eating and doesn’t allow her to be fed, she has to be able to feed herself so as you can imagine, lunch can take a while. Ryan fished upstream and caught a few trout while she ate. I was expecting one of two scenarios after lunch, either she would boycott the pack and that would be the end of the day. I would have been totally fine with this result, at this point she’d been in it for almost three hours. The other scenario I saw was her getting back in the pack and passing back out with a full belly. By this point the air temp was in the 40’s and the wind was a non-issue for the most part. Neither scenario was what I got, instead she stayed awake and hung out exploring and watching her dad and his friend catch trout for another two and a half hours showing no signs of wanting to head home.
We temped the creek at 11am (41°F) and again at 2:30pm (48°F). This tighter valley gets less direct sun than others and there was plenty of snow and ice lingering around. I was expecting maybe a few bugs to hatch but not many. The rocks showed plenty of Baetis but few were mature enough to suggest an afternoon of dry flies. We saw plenty of #22 Black Midge floating on or near the surface of the creek all day. We watched a handful of fish rise but not many and it wasn’t until 3pm did I watch the one and only confirmed BWO drift by. I went to nab it with my hat and waited too long. No super notable trout today but we got to be outside in a beautiful valley. I got to spend another day with my daughter who impressed me yet again with her willingness to be outside with me. I am excited for warmer weather and the possibilities of playing in a trout stream, getting dirty, and exploring nature will bring.