savage of the north...branch?
I hate it when I take a weekend off from fishing. Especially when there are shenanigans afoot like kicking it with little dogs or drunken stream exploration. That said, you can imagine I was both a tad bummed and excited for my homies when I received this intel from Clarence Monday morning after their trip to the North Branch and Savage this past weekend. Without further adieu - some fly words from brother Clarence:
"Here's how the weekend went down:
Short version: Caught 7 rainbow trout, 1 brook trout, 1 smallmouth bass. Noodled a few minnows. Beautiful weather both days, especially Sunday. Light fishing pressure on both rivers both days.
Friday: Scooted out of town around 2pm. Arrived at the Savage with about an hour of daylight left to fish. Popped down the hill just upstream of the confluence with the North Branch and across from the little industrial plant/mill/thing. Drifted some hopper-droppers and beetles along the far bank and through the pools to no avail. Connor tossed a big articulated streamer in there hoping for Mr. Johnson. Nada. Packed it in and headed to the campground to get set up and eat dinner.
Had the campsite and surrounding area to ourselves. Got lucky and found a site with a bunch of leftover firewood. It quickly got drunk out and spent a long while throwing Tommy at the big oak tree. Did some creaking that night in a little brookie stream and caught some blacknose dace and sculpins by hand, along with a few salamanders. Not a lot of insect activity under the rocks, mostly little nest-building caddis and an odd stonefly or two. Slim pickin' for those brookies. Broke my lungs on a big cigar.
Saturday: Fished the NB lower section. We peered down the cement retaining wall on the way downstream and saw a monster palomino trout that looked a lot like this one. We came back to it later.
About two miles downstream and past the other fisherdudes that were out (not many, maybe a few cars worth) we popped into the river and started fishing. Fished super beetles with size 16-18 stonefly droppers for a bit and hooked up with a 13" or so rainbow with a melting anus. Yes. My best guess is that it had a hook or something lodged in its rectum and the wound had spread and was about half-dollar sized. Don't think it was a bird because the wound was on the bottom. Gross. Plucked out another one about an hour later just upstream in a nice run/glide in the shadows.
Around noon-2pm there were a few fishing hitting at the surface on the shaded side of the bank. We both gave those fish our best shots, but to no avail. Connor took a shot at the big palomino on the way out but it wasn't interested. Left the NB with only two fish between the both of us and headed out for provisions (more beer, fly shop pit stop, and firewood).
Next we went to the Savage to fish it before the Sunday whitewater release. Popped in just below the Do-Not-Enter section and fished a few holes. Had a half-dozen missed surface strikes on size 14-18 elk hair caddis dries. Don't know what the problem was--either user error or uncoordinated fish. Had to pack it up a little early because there was an intimidating storm rolling our way.
Went back to camp and waited out the rain. Decided it would be a good idea to go catch a brook trout, so I went and caught a brook trout. Pretty decent sized fish considering the puddle she lived in. Hammered a little caddis on cast#1. Tired herself out in about 15 seconds and didn't want to swim upright again, so I had to spend 5 minutes reviving her. Felt bad and checked up on her continuously throughout the night and she seemed OK.
Got the tents up, the fire roaring, and dined on pork chops and lamb prepared by Camp Chef Connor. Threw some more Tommy (hawk) until it got lost in the weeds (found it in a very conspicuous spot next to the tree in the AM).
Sunday: Tried to fish the Savage during the release, but at 800-1000cfs we were fishing some stained, high water and were having trouble getting flies down, and casting was tough from the bank and the river was too high to safely wade. Decided to get back to the NB and fished the upper section below the dam. There was a beautiful run with some deep holes upstream about a mile from the parking lot and we had it all to ourselves (except for a big osprey).
We each casted to a palomino and his half-dozen trout buddies but none were interested in anything more than a quick look. Moved upstream and caught a 14" smallie on a super beetle. Moved up a little more and Connor caught fire and ripped out two 13-14" bows from a pool on a dead-drift nymph rig. He gave me a chance at the hole and moved back downstream only to pull out a 20" rainbow. It acted like a log coming to him, but once it saw me with the net it got nimbly and put up a solid fight. Took right back off without hesitation and will make another angler happy again soon.
Swapped places again and I caught a 14-15" rainbow on a wooly bugger. Connor caught another average sized rainbow with a big chunk out of him (thanks Osprey). Fished our way back to the car and called it a day around 3:30.
Lessons learned: Bringing my little dog fishing isn't as big of a pain in the ass as I thought it'd be. She fits perfectly into a backpack and is very complacent sitting there all day. Gets upset when folks refer to her as a cat, though I understand the confusion.
Thanks to Connor, I now know that nymph rigs can be easily setup with a couple feet of leader butt section (or probably a 25-20lb mono knotted taper) with a loop-to-loop connected to 4 feet or so of 4x fluoro tippet. Easily tied, turns over well enough, and cuts through water. Great idea and would have saved me from having to retie after inevitable nymph rig tangles."
And there you have it folks. Fly dudes doin' fly stuff.
Fly dudes doing fly things in fly places with flies. Got that?