Spring and another fishing season are finally here. No doubt this is my favorite time of year with all the promises of warmer weather, beautiful unfolding of Mother Natureís grandeur and of course, Trout fishing.
To me Trout are some of the most magnificent creatures on this planet. I remember as a young boy how I marveled at the intricately designed markings on their bodies, especially brook trout. Their streamlined bodies adapted perfectly to their environment amazed me as I unfolded a myriad of mysteries when I donned my facemask and snorkel. Entering their realm and swimming among them was breathtaking. Not only was this exciting, but enlightening as well.
Iím still enamored with their beauty, but their cunning and mysteries fascinate me as well. Pursuing them with a fly rod from above water level is a challenge indeed. My youthful images of older, wiser than average gentlemen sitting on streamside logs studying the river as they puffed on a pipe was intriguing enough that eventually I had to pursue this glorious sport of fly fishing.
The image of the first trout I caught with a fly burns vividly in my memory. Itís not quite as romantic as one might assume. In fact I emptied my worm can and out of desperation I removed from my fishing hat, (everyone that was a serious fisherman used to have a fishing hat with lures and flies stuck into it like colonel Henry Blake on the Mash television series) a likely looking fly called a Black Gnat. It was an oversized version of the black flies that were tormenting me. I proceeded to remove my worm hook from my spin fishing outfit and tie the fly on with a simple overhand knot.
Not knowing that I was doing a legitimate fly fishing maneuver, dapping, I discreetly dropped the fly into a likely looking backwater near an overhanging bank. I really didnít have a whole lot of faith in this feathery thing but I was desperate. Out from the undercut bank came a beautiful brook trout. I was so surprised I forgot to set the hook immediately but being a hungry fish it held on to long and found itself hanging from the branches above my head. Back then I didnít know what catch and release was so I put my first fly-caught trout in my wicker creel and headed proudly home to show my father.
That was approximately forty- two years ago and Iíve upgraded my technique as well as the equipment considerably. Sitting on a log on the stream bank contemplating life and studying the river is one of my favorite things. Thank goodness for this because thatís how I spend a good part of the fishing season except that I do quite a bit of talking and entertaining as well.
Last year was the most exciting year of my guiding career. Not only did Kevin Smith develop a great website for me (www.outdoorswithjohnmorawski.com) but we had some of the best fishing Iíve ever seen around this area.
The Day of the Gypsy Moth sounds a bit like an old time horror movie, but to me it is what I fondly call the most amazing day of fishing Iíve ever seen. It was in the same caliber as Argentina and Alaska. We, Norm Pacun and I, were in one of my favorite haunts and one of his least. This stream has a few fairly large fish but there difficult to catch as most wild trout are. Norm had a couple strikes fishing nymphs but nothing too exciting.
It was the middle of a fairly hot July day and the only possible dry fly action would be from terrestrials I surmised so nymphing seemed to be the way to go. As I watched the strike indicator there was a flash over on the other side of the pool so I focused over there for a minute or so. There, another flash and a rise form. Who would have imagined that the gypsy moths I had begun seeing fall into the water were table fare for trout.
Suddenly the pool became alive with leaping trout!! It was hard to believe. I tied on a large Stimulator for Norm and the action started. The largest fish, well over twenty inches surfaced from a mere three feet of water like a trident submarine and engulfed the fly. It was so astonishing and sudden that the big guy beat us to the punch and was gone in a flash. It was amazing for a fish that size to disappear in three feet of crystal clear water so suddenly. Just to know fish like that live in this small stream is mind-boggling.
The action continued for another hour or so with Wild Trout of fifteen inches and bigger taking the offering. As suddenly as it started it withered and died. This was truly a day to remember.
Another exciting time was had later in the season just below a dam with a fellow from South Africa. He was fishing a Black Ghost Zonker because the Brookies and Browns were beginning to spawn. He caught a few nice brookies up to about a foot or so in their glorious Fall colors and then we started fishing up toward the spillway in the shallower, faster water. I told him to concentrate on the eddies behind the big chunks of broken off concrete that acted as buffers. He got hung up on a couple of these and then what appeared to be another snag further up. THEN IT MOVED!! Not far, but it moved.
It owned the time. There seemed no way to get the fish to move again no matter how much pressure he put on it with 5x tippet. Eventually it came downstream to hold behind another concrete ďrockĒ, except this time on the far side attempting to wrap the line and break off. I instructed the fellow to get out there quickly to move the fish. Slipping and sliding he managed force the fish away. It leisurely swam back to where it had been upstream. It was so deliberate with no sense of panic, almost as if it was just biding itís time with no sense of panic.
Finally after about ten or fifteen minutes (who knew how long really) it went back downstream into deeper water. Ahh, maybe, just maybe, we were getting the upper hand.
I started to get my camera out while watching the rod tip. Suddenly the rod snapped straight. GONEówhat a sick feeling not to have even seen the whale. I truly think this fish has done this many times as the line was cut cleanly on I presume another rock. No knot slippage there.
My estimate of the size would probably not be heeded, but the last time I witnessed such strength in a fish was when I landed a thirty-one inch brown on the Rio Chimehuin in Argentina.
Overall, it was a great season and Iím looking forward to another.