If we were counting — and my son and I certainly don’t — we were both winners this delayed Opening Day weekend.
Mostly, it was great just to get outdoors and chase trout once again. And get out we did, and away from any crowds.
Eleven miles out, to be exact. R. Creek is a tiny thing, a small stream I am sure is barely given any notice by the few folks crossing the small stone bridge. We’d certainly have never taken note of it, much less visited, were it not for two older fishermen who took a liking to our catch-and-release ethic and, in a quiet whisper, described this crick full of small wild and willing rainbows.
We made to R. Creek sometime after eight o’clock. It was one of those so-called ‘bluebird days’ of a California spring, when everything is still green. Just as expected and hoped, we were the only ones on the creek.
The water was running a bit high, but it still looked about as inviting as a small creek can be. A few casts in the usual spots suggested that like the fish, we’d have to adjust to the higher flow if there was to be any catching.
We headed upstream, testing each pocket, pool and riffle. Sean was nymphing. It was a dry/dropper combination for me; a size 20 Parachute Adams trailing a similarly sized Flashback Pheasant Tail.
A bit of strategic thinking is required when it comes to accessing this creek through thick stands of pine, oaks and streamside blackberry bushes. Felt-soled wading boots don’t help and my elbow can attest to the lack of traction afforded on a mat of pine needles and oak leaves.
Then I found it. That picture perfect bend, with a half sunken log offering shade and shelter to a small pod of trout. It was a deeper pool than usual on this creek, about three feet deep. My first cast revealed that depth wasn’t an issue when a six-inch rainbow rocketed from the depths to grab the Parachute Adams.
Now, I’m still very much in touch with my inner caveman when it comes to fishing — I like to catch — and will use what works. But when a dry fly works, there truly is nothing like an aggressive take on the surface, regardless of the size of fish.
I had landed a beautiful ten incher and missed a few more strikes by the time Sean found me. We let the pool rest and ventured upstream. We would return later and we both hooked a couple of fish.
As happens with days during which the fishing and catching are good, time lost meaning and any argument to leave quickly fell away amid furtive glances to promising water. We decided to venture downstream into unexplored territory. Dismissed two years ago as a fool’s errand, it was clear we were mistaken. The shallow braided water soon regained the manner of a proper stream offering countless possibilities.
Sticking with the dry/dropper combo — it was too much fun to not try a dry — I found a long run of riffles that again offered the shelter of a fallen log. Shadows darted after my fly as it rushed downstream. There was no false casting here, just a quick whip to get the fly back upstream.
Sean and I would leapfrog one another as we explored further downstream. Sean would end up landing more fish, but I daresay that I was one who had the most fun. R. Creek is becoming a favorite place.
We fished another creek, learning after the fact but evidenced by our catching, that it had been hit hard, legally and otherwise, on and perhaps before Opening Day. A detour on the way home secured some half growlers from Snowshoe Brewing Co.
It was a good day. And the next day would be even better for Sean.