Notes of Interest: For the usual notes regarding conditions and observed temperatures see the short post I put up the day before.
On Friday afternoon I put my daughter in her pack and set off with my two dogs on a short hike out to see the sunset. As we are out I look to a farm field we pass and note a small stream of dark water flowing fast, down into a retention pond, glad to see the retention pond. Fast forward to 10:15am the next morning as my car crosses the first bridge and I immediately get this sinking feeling. I was so focused on fishing the night before that it didn’t dawn on me that the creeks could have gotten enough snow melt to mess things up. To complicate matters I needed to stick to a time frame because I had plans to spend the afternoon with my daughter, maybe go hiking, or just play around the house.
So Ryan and I scope one spot lower on the selected watershed, it looked uninviting and very cold. Brown water flowing past with a steady stream of white foam indicating the increase in water level and flow. So a brief discussion re: different creek…do we have time? Agh…so we drive upstream and pick a spot. The choice was to just go and if we suffered from my lack of foresight then so be it. My boots hit a riffle at 10:25am and I temp the creek at 38°F. My heart sank, just cold, really cold for a trout stream. The water was heavily stained but not unfishable by any means, the water temperature was concerning to be sure. Maybe five minutes later and just upstream I see Ryan landing his first brown…ummm…maybe this isn’t going to be as bad as I thought?
I tied on one of my new streamers, which Ryan aptly dubbed “the Orange Mane” (that name will stick), and started upstream. A few minutes later I’m landing my first brown of the morning. I was surprised at the aggressiveness of the strikes and the location in deeper runs and coming up from deeper holes to smack streamers. We continue upstream a ways both catching a few fish here and there enjoying the warm 36°F airtemp. I was spying for run-off but everything around us was still frozen even into the later afternoon. At noon I called home and discussed the idea of perhaps packing my daughter along while Ryan fished into the afternoon. The wife agreed and fed Juniper while I hiked back to my car and drove it upstream to meet Ryan and my wife. When I got to the car I temped the exact same riffle as earlier and found it to have risen to 40°F in the 1.5hrs since I last temped it, this was a good sign.
Fast forward fourty-five minutes. It’s now 12:45pm, Ryan is out fishing and I’m doing a hand-off with my wife. The kid is in the pack and its our first time on a trout stream. We’ve done some shorter hikes and my expectations are very realistic. I figure if I get twenty more minutes on the water I’ll be happy. So off we set to track down Ryan who turns out is landing browns and brookies while we are lagging behind. Upstream we catch up and Juniper is giggling and making all kinds of smiley faces at Ryan as we both work upstream. I left my rod back at the car but brought my cameras. After an hour my daughter has yet to complain and by all accounts seems to be enjoying herself. I opt to push on and see how long this will last, turns out she basically lasted the rest of the day. We hiked all the way upstream while Ryan landed a few more smaller browns and a couple brookies.
On the way back I borrowed his rod and fish slop on a couple runs he hit on the way up. The last spot gave up the largest fish on the day and the first trout I’ve caught with my daughter. She watched as I let it swim back home and with that we hiked out. All told she sat in that pack for just over two hours without a single complaint. I hope this is something that she loves to do with me. Thanks to Ryan for taking some great photos and hanging out with me and my kid. I had no idea she’d hang out that long while we fished, glad we tried it and on a perfect day for it too. Final thought here, we drove up on a situation that just set the day on a sour note yet we didn’t quit and give in the result was on of the best days I’ve had on the water in a long time. It will go down in my books as one of the best days I’ve ever had on a trout stream.