Parked 10am. 1/3 of a mile hike in some fluffy deep snow to get to the water then another mile upstream and the entire distance back out again. A total of close to 4,050 yards according to Google Earth. 40 football fields in 3-4 feet of snow. Reminds me of the crawling through sh*t line in Shawshank Redemption. [singlepic id=1270 w=320 h=240 float=right]Along the way we happened upon many sights, a pair of hawks flying above with a screeching mouse in tow for example. The hike in was slow, through some serious snow with nothing more than an animal trail over an old set of truck tracks from months ago to aid us. This would be worth it though. I expected to find warm gin clear trout water and that is in fact what I found. First water temp more than a mile downstream of two major springs held a temp of 46 degrees at ~10:30am.
Midge were already peppering the snow more than twenty feet from the stream when we began fishing. We nymphed, myself a #14 Pink Patrick with a #20 Beadhead Midge Larva. Simple, standard and effective patterns. The sun waited until late in the day to show itself, the photo’s reflect that aspect of the day well. We fished old H.I. work as we travelled to the source of this stream. We each managed a few takes on the way in but [singlepic id=1276 w=280 h=200 float=left] water levels were down considerably through the section we fished. I wonder if the massive amount of instream growth this stream supports in the summer that shrinks in the winter might have something to do with it. The more instream vegetation, the more stuff to fill up the channel, thus making the stream look as if it has more water in it. Anyways just a side thought. We fished to source, hiked half the distance back out and fished up again.
At 1pm as we hiked downstream the midge began doing it, literally in the snow they would link up and the larger of the two would basically tow the other around in the snow. Interesting. We saw thousands of midge through the course of the day, with an initial water temp of 46 degrees and the fact that so many were already crawling around several feet from the stream I have to think a majority had hatched before we arrived, maybe before we woke to start the day. At 1:25pm I saw the first one float towards me. [singlepic id=1306 w=280 h=200 float=right]I had to stop for a second and really look to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was, as soon as I was sure I was diving in close to my waist to catch a few WINTER BWO’s? Yep. We watched as a good couple dozen emerged on the run I was fishing, float downstream and take off. Very cool, good day for bugs. Now to find a few trout.
We did eventually find a willing pod of fish that readily took a #20 Miracle Nymph like it was candy but it took nearly the entire day to find it and after swapping fish for an hour we were frozen and ready to head home. Heath had a nicer +16in fish on but as the net came out it spooked and bolted forcing a limp line and an empty net. I managed a few browns as well, typical winter fishing. It isn’t easy and sometimes you’ve got to work pretty hard to see your line tighten up but it [singlepic id=1287 w=280 h=200 float=left]makes those days in the spring and summer when it jumps upon a strike that much better. With frozen feet and smiles we hiked the last leg out quickly. It was 4:30pm. Potentially a top 10 day for 2010 and it’s not even March yet.
Notes: So we found Midge had already been hatching before we arrived, and BWO’s hatching as the water temp got up to 47-48 degrees at 1:30pm. The Miracle Nymph worked wonders today while the Pink Patrick did nothing and could have been split shot for all the trout cared, actually I think I’ve had trout more readily strike my splitshot than they did the Pink fly today. Sometimes this thing can whack fifty trout, others it is a curse and is best left in the box. I learned this lesson today and will not forget it. Especially when the rocks showed about a million tiny nymphs, I was determined to feed them something twice as big and pink. I would have been better served fishing a WD-40 or a PT with the Miracle Nymph trailing. The BWO nymphs that were hatching were a yellow/cream color and were very apparent, I’m surprised and a little disappointed I didn’t take any pictures of them. Finally at the source of the stream we found a dead deer that was something’s dinner, when we hiked to a second spring we found a second carcass that had also been well fed on. I wonder if something large isn’t dragging them down into that valley, interesting… I apologize for the quantity of images but it was a day of things to see. Check the slideshow out on fullscreen.