Saturday, June 4, 2016
The Arizona Wild Trout Challenge- Day Four, Brown Trout
Wild Trout Wednesday- The Arizona Wild Trout Challenge, Day 4
Not a bad looking place to filter water for your morning coffee.
Day 4 started off early with the normal morning rituals of us all getting ready for the day, taking care of Sebastian, breakfast, and packing up camp so we can head to the creek. There was a lot of discussion on which creek we would fish for Brown Trout. These fish seem to be the most difficult for me and most of the time its not so much the fish but the bad luck we run into on the days we choose to fish for them. Knowing my previous success rate we decided to try a creek not too far from where we camped first and hope there is not a need for plan B or C. As we pulled up to the parking area I was a bit unpleased to see a mass amount in one of the camp grounds. We got our gear on, put our rods together and got Sebastian strapped in to his pack. It was early so the camp sites were quiet and I was hoping to get in and out before things got busy. When we came to the first water crossing it was a bit of a shock to see no water. I had fished this creek a few times in the last few months and always had to cross moving water at this point.
Anastasia getting Sebastian dressed and ready to fish.
My wife suggested maybe we should skip this creek and head to the next one but I had caught some decent size fish here in the past and wasn't quite ready to give up on it. One of the pools I had caught fish in before was a just up a head but again we came to the bank only to see a dry wash. I talked her into hiking up to a deep pool that is pretty easy to miss if you are on the typical trail so it seems to get less fishing pressure. Finally we found water and I crossed over to the pool I had been looking forward to in hopes of finding a hungry fish. The last time I fished this pool i snuck up to a large over hanging rock and played down dropping my fly just above the plunge and immediately had a tight line. The spot is tight and only a bout 7 feet from the plunge to the tail end but is deep enough for some nice browns. As I approached the pool I figured what worked last time might just work again but found out quickly that I was wrong. Anastasia watched from a distance as I tried a few different presentations but sound decided to move on.
Staying low while seeing what could be hiding under that rock by the head of the pool.
Upstream we went and the pressure of catching 5 species in 5 days started to take its toll. We had been on the road for 4 days, hiking all day, not getting much sleep and making sure we keep our son happy most of all. My wife wanted to head out but I had found a few pools with fish but for one reason or another I left with nothing in net. Finally after the campers started coming out and the hiking trail got busy I swallowed my pride and agreed to go with plan b. I would like to think I am not alone when it comes to being determined to catch fish in a spot you know has been good to you in the past. Especially after loosing a few decent ones that day. With not much time left in the trout challenge deadline that I had set I knew this was no time for letting my stubbornness get the best of me. We hiked back out to the car and drove to the next spot.
I probably should have gotten down more but nobody will ever know what made the fish change its mind last second.
Changing presentation and trying new flies still left me in search of that first brown in the net.
The first creek receives a lot of fishing pressure from my experience and with how small these streams are it takes a toll on the trout. The next spot is supposed to be more of a Arizona secret. A lot of people have done what they can to keep it quiet but I seem to run into new people there every time we go to fish so we had hoped maybe nobody was out there before us today. It seemed weird having my gear on and the rods ready to go because its not often we switch creeks in the same day. Leaving the car was much quicker then normal for that reason and we headed down to the creek excited to get on some fish. As we got to the begging of the trail I heard a bell and started looking around for what could be making the sound. Around the corner came a little Dachshund and its owner who had fly fishing gear in hand. I was not too excited to see another person because that normally means the spots we are going to have just been disturbed. After talking for a few minutes it was nice to meet another person who had the same passion for wild trout as us. He told us he had been fishing the creeks in this area for around 20 years and shared some stories of how great they use to be. We continued on our path to see what the area would was like. It was warming up and we noticed a few hatches in the areas of the creek that had sun on them. Our first sign of life was a rising trout up a head. I have never been so excited to see that movement so we switched flies and watch from a distance as the fish came up a few more times.
Snow and large canine prints were not what we expected to find while hiking into the spot to fish.
My first couple casts drifted down with nothing showing interest but I was then interrupted by splash coming from the next run. When I looked up stream I saw a tight line, bent rod and all smiles. This was my wife's first Brown ever so she was beyond excited to finally catch one. The fish was netted in the water while I dug out the camera. It didn't get much use so far today so we had to make sure the fish was safe and stayed wet in the mean time. After a quick photo the happy trout was off to be caught another day.
The excitement of her first Brown ever.
Now it was my turn. It sounds simple enough to catch one Brown Trout in a day, but not today for me at least. We hiked further in to the mountain hoping to see that site of feeding but no signs of life were present. I put on a different fly again switching to a nymph pattern since nothing was rising. A few casts later I felt the tug I had been longing for and immediately set then stripped my line until the fish was in our net. It was a small but that wasn't what was most disappointing. Today was planned as the Brown Trout day and this little guy was a Brook Trout. I was happy to not be skunked for the day but decided to try plan c to finally catch my brown.
A fish yes but not the one I was looking for as you can tell by my strange facial expression.
For the second time we hiked back to the car and headed off to fish another spot. I was disappointed and it was last few hours of day light so all I could do is focus and not give up. Fishing from sunrise to sunset can make for a long day but fishing 3 different creeks you have to hike into was starting to wear on us. It was our 3rd time getting out of the car and trying to stay motivated to hike down to another creek. This was less of a walk to get to the water but if the first runs didn't produce a fish then it could be a long journey back in the dark. The water was moving pretty good from recent melts but not too fast. We fished a couple spots that were pretty open with not much area to hide from the view of the fish below. As I worked my way a long the steam I hid behind some vegetation and roll casted into a nice bubble line then watched as my fly drifted down stream. Right when it got to the tail end of the pool and I prepared to pick up for another cast I was surprise by the flash of an aggressive fish. I set and was quick to grab my net so I wouldn't lose what could only be the species I was in search of. Finally I had landed my brown, got the picture documentation for the trout challenge and let it go so it could grow.
I am still dreaming of large Arizona Brown Trout bending my rod and over filling my net.
I had beat the browns that day but they sure as heck made me work for it. Since this trip I have decided to fish more for this species and attempt to figure them out the best I can. When talking to people from other states or looking through photos online the browns seem to be pretty prolific making them easier to catch. I even know a few local guys that have caught monster browns in Arizona or at least are pretty constant catching them each trip. My progression on fly fishing was the main motivation for this trip. As a beginner to the hobby I wanted to get out in search of new species, locations and learn what it takes to catch a fish in different environments. People say "the tug is the drug" which I completely understand but to me its the thirst for knowledge that keeps us putting miles on our boots in search of wild trout. We fished our way back to the car and had some luck but it was time to get our camp vibes going as well as a nice fire to warm up. Day 5 was the one I had the most confidence with because it was a spot I had fished many times and always had good luck. The only species left on the list was my favorite so I think I planned to save the best for last on accident. Either was I was pretty happy to spend the last day of the trip fishing for some wild Brook Trout. Join us next week for another Wild Trout Wednesday and Day 5 of our Arizona Wild Trout Challenge.
Home for the night came with a great view.
With all the other things to focus on it was nice to have a Gatorwire solar charger to keep our batteries full.
Being aware of their surroundings is the only way to survive in streams like this.
Baby Browns are better then no browns.
Staying behind the tree while drifting dry flies in the small pool.