Sean and I double-teamed the driving to make a late-night run up the hill to squeeze in a final day of the trout season. If you’re lucky enough to have kids who understand the value of holding down a job, you know it’s hard to mesh schedules, so instead of the entire weekend our plan was to run up to the cabin Thursday, to fish Friday and leisurely wind our way home Saturday.
With a few short hours of sleep and only a day to fish, our eyes were on catching, not just chasing ‘em. So Friday found us on a tributary of Don Pedro Lake, a place not too far away and — fly fishing purists close your eyes — known to be stocked. I counted on the lackadaisical nature of fishermen who fall under the latter half of “put and take” to offer assurance that there’d be some rainbows left even though DFG trucks hadn’t visited this particular stretch in over two weeks.
Rigged up and ready, Sean was first to cast, and on that fish cast it was “fish on!” Though not landed, we took it as a good sign. Sean’s learned a lot since that first fly fishing lesson last spring, so it’s not only because yours truly graciously granted him first crack at one of the best runs that he landed four decent rainbows before I had a chance at a single one.
A bit later and a bit downstream I showed Sean a few seldom-fished and often productive pools, then it was back up to a more popular section. Thanks to the waders — most bait and hardware fisherfolks precariously perch on roots near this section — we effortlessly walked upstream and downstream near the opposite bank, targeting pods of trout as well as individual fish. Both of us hooked numerous fish and landed a few less than hooked. (Sean would probably agree that his fly fishing education might benefit from a focus on the hookset.) Our biggest were about 14 inches, with some broad-shouldered bruisers in the mix.
A better day we couldn’t have asked for. The sun was out but the air temperature was pleasant. The water was a bit high but the fish were willing.
But the “good day” rating was to be pegged just about lunchtime.
Fishing the tailout of a pool with a size 22 midge (very small fly for non-fisher folks) I was able to watch a fish adjust to the fly’s path and a white flash told me it had opened its mouth for the take. That white flash of the mouth — rainbows have darker mouths — suggested that this would be a brook trout left over from stocking earlier in the year. The fish sure did shake its head like a brookie. But then it jumped. “Whoa!” Sean yelled as it did. Another jump and it was heading downstream, taking me with it.
About five minutes later, after doing a “rock dance,” and about 20 more feet downstream, landing procedures commenced. It was then that the coolness factor of this fish rose quite a bit. I was a hooked-jawed wild brown trout headed upstream from the lake to spawn. All 15 inches of him. One very cool surprise.
The downside is that we left the camera at home. But ask Sean. I think he’ll tell ya it was a good day with a great fish among the many good.