Saturday, June 4, 2016

Wild Trout Wednesday- The Arizona Wild Trout Challenge; Day 5 The Final Day, Brook Trout

Check out more from out trip on the Orvis News page here: The Arizona Wild Trout Challenge- Day Five, Brook Trout

Wild Trout Wednesday- The Arizona Wild Trout Challenge; Day 5 The Final Day

We couldn't help but smile waking up everyday to views like this one. Photo by Tyler Coleman

Our campsite had some local morning visitors. Photo by Tyler Coleman

The final day was fishing for my favorite wild trout The Brook Trout. Just a refresher on our trip the goal is to catch all 5 species of the wild trout in Arizona. Originally there is no time limit on the Arizona Wild Trout Challenge but being competitive I decided to make a 5 day camping trip out of it. By the 5th day we were all pretty tired from the long hikes and just being on the road with a newborn for 5 days. Sebastian is the happiest when in the woods but today he was ready to be free from the Kelty baby carrier and play around on the ground. This made things a little slower for us since making him happy comes first on our trips. Sebastian loves all the textures, smells and sites of being outdoors so we took some times to let him explore once arriving to the creek.

Sebastian practicing his netting skills to be prepared for our next big trip. Photo by Anastasia Coleman

Once we began to fishing it struck me right away that something had changed. This creek is small and not too often fished but the decor of flies stuck in trees and some bait fishing gear left on the ground alerted us that the season change had brought a little fishing pressure. Brook Trout are known for being aggressive feeders and in the past these locals were some of the best. I have seen a good size fish from this creek rise enough to eat my dry fly in the air on the bounce then run up creek to escape the sting of the hook. The warmer weather also means vegetation growth rapidly increases each week causing the creek to get difficult to place a fly in the water. 

Off we went into the Forest service land in search of wild trout. Photo by Tyler Coleman

The first few pools showed no signs of fish which is strange to us because they are usually pretty productive. I wasn't sure if the fish had just moved, were taken home to eat or not properly handled when caught causing them to die. This spot is pretty special to me as it was the first place I caught a wild trout and my first Brookie which sparked my love for small creek fishing. We decided to move on and hike further up the trail to find some areas that would be less likely to have been fished. I stopped to try a pool that I had caught a fish over twelve inches in the month or so before. No matter how I presented my fly it seemed only trout fry wanted to rise for it. I switched my dry to a different pattern that is usually the key to getting them to eat and that did the trick. I watched a nice size trout come out from its tiny hiding place to nail my fly. The fish was on and I joke the battle in these creeks is similar to playing pinball. The fish bounced side to side and then back under the log freeing itself from the hook. Barbless fishing is all about keeping tension and sometimes an obstacle on the water is exactly what the fish needs to shake you off your game. Loosing this fish was pretty frustrating but I moved on to check the next bend ahead. 

When your hear of small creek fishing in Arizona it means small. Go Pro photo by Tyler Coleman

Right as I had climbed into position through the foliage to hide for a quick cast up stream I heard Anastasia celebrating and knew the first fish of the day had landed. I set my gear down and grabbed the camera then ran up to see what she had in the net. Not only was this the first fish of the day but it was the biggest Brook Trout she had ever caught. It was great to see a thick fish that had been feeding well and surviving in this delicate ecosystem. She was pretty excited to have successfully completed the trout challenge so we shot some pictures and let the fish return to its home to be caught another day.

Not the longest fish we have found here but one of the healthiest for sure. Photo by Tyler Coleman

We each had officially caught all of the 5 species of wild trout in Arizona but the day was still young and our love for these fish kept us going further into the woods. The next pool was a pretty tough to get to but that makes it more likely to be holding some fish in my mind. When I finally got my fly into the water I watched it drift down stream and the line get tight. My wife was just a few feet behind me with the net and we wrestled the over grown plants and welcomed the small trout into our net.

My first successful fish of the day felt great and I couldn't wait to find some more. Photo: Anastasia Coleman

In the last 5 days we had hiked over 40 miles, drove over 700 miles, fished 7 creeks, camped for 4 nights, stepped on one rod, lost more then a handful of good size fish and donated a couple flies to the trees (and also found 6 flies), we lost some blood and sweat but we had completed our goal. This experience was something I will forever remember and the stories will live on through our children. We are making a book for Sebastian to look at when he gets older to see the wild thing he did before even turning one year old. I feel we have learned so much more about Arizona and especially how the wildlife survives in the areas we visited during this challenge. The smallest change can impact their environment for better or worse and its up to the outdoor enthusiast to make sure we leave as little trace as possible. Every place we hiked had its share of trash left behind by careless people who made the journey into the woods only to leave it less beautiful then they found it. People post social media pictures talking about how amazing these places are but don't take the time to pack out everything they brought in or clean up the trash they come across. The ecosystem is delicate and should be treated as so. I feel very grateful to be able to see a different side of our state and I can only hope it continues to be available for everyones responsible enjoyment. Here are some photos from day 5 and a couple other extras from the trip.

Clean safe water is not only important to our health. These fish and the environment need it to survive.

Free refills on water all day. Photo by Anastasia Coleman

Anastasia getting a strange angle on a fish hiding in the undercut. Photo by Tyler Coleman

Anastasia with another nice Brookie. Photo by Tyler Coleman

Pinball in the pools seems to be the best way to describe a Brook Trouts fight. Photo by Tyler Coleman

Go Pro close up. Photo by Tyler Coleman

A quick pitstop on the way home to enjoy the view. Photo by Anastasia Coleman

After 5 days in the woods the road home looked very good. Photo by Anastasia Coleman

I want to take the time to thank everyone who made this trip possible. First of all thank you to Tom Rosenbauer from Orvis for seeing the potential in our dreams and giving us this platform to share our journey with the world. Thank you to everyone at Orvis, Poler Stuff, K2 Coolers, Off The Grid Surplus, Gatorwire, Kelty Brand, Boze Flyworks, Upslope Brewing Co., Tenkara Rod Co., Sawyer Products, Jared Deanda, Braven, Ricky Furbee, KC Badger, Paul Williams at Become Co. and anyone who supported our outdoor adventures. Thank you to Mike and everyone behind the Trout Challenge program at Arizona Game and Fish. Also a big thanks to all of you following our trips by reading these posts, social media likes, shares and reposts. This is just the start for us and future trips will only get more exciting. Fly fishing has much to offer and we soon will be chasing natives across The Western United States. 

Without all of companies involved with this trip it would not have been possible. Thank you all again, our appreciation can never fully be expressed in words.

Along with great life experince Arizona Game and Fish has a care package for those who complete the trout or wild trout challenge. These certificates are my favorite part and will be framed on the wall as a trophy for all our hard work. 

You didn't think we were going to give up these spots that easily did you? Follow along for our Wild Trout Wednesdays but most of all get outside to explore your state and stay #insearchofwildtrout.

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