We knew the weekend warriors were gone. We also knew they’d have hit hard a creek that’s always fun in terms of catching. Our plan was to find all the fish too smart for everyone else.
As we geared up that morning, the count favored Sean, and I trailed by a considerable margin but refused to bring up the excuse that I had relied on a dry fly for much of the previous day while he
took the easy way out used nymphs.
We go to this creek when we want to catch something, enjoying our tax (and licensing) dollars at work. The rainbow trout stocked here are generally of the Eagle Lake strain, a hard fighting fish that often entertains with acrobatics. Fishing here stacks the deck if you’re measuring success by the number of fish caught. I’ll admit to also enjoying the look of astonishment on the faces of other fishermen, the ones not using flies, when in 15 minutes Sean or I pull out three fish to their one. So, please, shelve any debate about “missing the point,” this is a place of pure fun.
As we walked down to the creek, it was clear that we’d have it to ourselves. Sean headed upstream. We’d both be nymphing — I’ve not known stocked trout to look up much — and this section offered plenty of deeper runs and pools. It didn’t take long for either of us to hook up.
With the intensive fishing over Opening Day weekend, I expected the catching to be a bit slower. I wasn’t disappointed. With a bit of work and a change to a favorite red chironomid, I regularly elicited strikes, particularly with a slow lift at the end of a drift. Catching had slowed for Sean, so he headed downstream to a fast run.Though a bit later I saw Sean’s rod go “bendo,” I knew the water he was fishing was fast and a fish of nearly any size would have an advantage in the current. I had no worries. Over the years during the too infrequent trips with me, Sean has become a better fly fisherman, enough to venture out on his own last year to find success on some streams in Yosemite’s high country. (There’s some fondness in my memory of a Reno telephone number showing up on my caller ID, only to find it was Sean resorting to a pay phone to call me with the news that he had landed his first wild brown on a fly.) After I saw him bend down with the net, I refocused on my fishing.
In the meantime, Sean had started upstream, and when I finally looked up, even at a distance I could see that the fish on his stringer wasn’t a cookie cutter stocker. With a grin to match, he held up a rainbow that measured an honest 18 inches. After the obligatory photo, he headed back downstream.
As often happens, I became lost in the fishing. Testing every edge and riffle, rewarded with strikes where expected and others that came as a total surprise. A bait fisherman took a seat on the opposite bank, asked about the fishing, then, after telling him it had slowed down, I landed three decent fish in less than ten casts.
Sean had returned while I was distracted. Suspiciously happy, he announced that he decided that first fish wasn’t big enough and hoisted up a 20-incher that had been added to the stringer.
If our little father-son competition was to be measured by inches, those last two fish would put Sean over the top.
However, we weren’t measuring in inches, and my count had long ago surpassed Sean’s. Nevertheless, this was probably Sean’s best Opening Day. Ever.