The day started at 4 am for me. I rolled over in my hammock and looked down at the time. I fell back asleep for another two hours then I waited. At 6:30
I’m fiddling with my leader and tying on my first streamer for the day when Ryan, three casts in, lands his first brown. He’s already having a great day and it’s not yet 10:30. We have a lot of daylight and a lot of water to cover. My first brown of the year came a bit later on a deep swung streamer. I watched my fly rise from darker water and with it the brown that crushed it the second it came near the surface of the stream. I fished my Black and Blue Dirty Mop for a while and took photos along the way. I watched Ryan fish and enjoyed the water we were fortunate enough to have all to ourselves. Fewer anglers are willing to go to these lengths to get water to themselves. Not much to say about the day other than it was unseasonably warm topping out at 18F. The sun shined the entire day and when you were standing in the sun it felt glorious. The water was slightly stained in deeper sections but otherwise very clear. Ryan moved quite a few fish with his streamer and sinking leader including one fish pushing twenty inches but his anxiousness resulted in a premature hookset and a lost fish of the day. I ended up accomplishing another goal of mine for the day when I switched to a two fly nymph rig and fished a handful of runs pulling out multiple browns on both the #12 Hairball and the #16 Flashback PT nymph I was fishing. It felt good to reacquaint myself with nymphing, I managed to cast all afternoon without getting hung up or tangling my flies together.
We fished all the way up to our original campsite and beyond. We looked up at the rock outcropping that we sat on early in the morning as we fished the stream under it. It’s a very satisfying feeling to set a goal then make it happen. We didn’t fish much past the rock out cropping. It was approaching 3:30 pm and we had to hike back out, get our packs and make it to the truck. With the heavier bags I wanted to avoid crossing the deeper water in the dark if possible. No rising trout were seen and no midges or other flies found along the stream or on the surface of the water. Streamers and nymphs did the job and for a January 1st opener it will go down in the books as a special one. As I hiked out I thought of the woods up on the ridge and the spring and summer to come. Before the door shut on the truck to drive us home I had already begun scheming my next camping trip in this place. Next time it will be on the ridge and it will be in the early to mid summer. Things will look and feel very different but I will drink my coffee on that rock outcropping just the same.