There are times when the catching is good, but the fishing still unsatisfying. I was felt this way on Hot Creek, just a bit, during this last club trip to the Eastern Sierra.
I may not eagerly jump out of bed on a work day, but by nature — likely because I’m in tune with nature on most fishing trips — I’m an early morning fly fisher.
It’s a strategy that works for me. It puts me on the water long before almost anyone else. Nymphs work well for me in the twilight of the morning. The darkness lends the fish in my net a a mysterious, ghostly quality.
But this last trip, after that aforementioned conversation with the guy from Cabo, I thought it was time to change it up.
That’s what put me on Hot Creek about mid afternoon on a Thursday.
It was nicer than I expected, with a mid week crowd comprised of a single fisherman and myself, and the normally frustrating winds almost nonexistent. Caddis coated the bushes. An errant mayfly dipped up and down in the air.
I’d been told that a certain crane fly imitation would work well. I didn’t have one. The hoppers that were suggested didn’t get even a glance from fish clearly seen to be eating. For a time I watched the graceful and economical movements of a pod of trout, rising to feed and falling back to the bottom. Obviously, there was something that I couldn’t see bringing them to the surface.
Like most any water, Hot Creek comes with its own piece of counseling: go small. And in the afternoon, dry flies.
Normally I’d head upstream and work my way down, but after a friendly conversation with older gent already fishing (and giving him a size 20 caddis for use as an indicator above a trailing something about size 22-24), I decided to stick and move as I worked my way up the creek.
I rigged up in similar fashion, with a black caddis trailing a size 24 parachute Adams. This time of year, tactics at Hot Creek are often dictated by the abundant weed growth. A soft footfall serves one well, and I carefully picked my way around bushes while watching the “lanes.” In the past, I bypassed these areas under the pretext of one excuse or another. (My casting isn’t good enough, I won’t get a long enough drift, too many people, etc.)
It wasn’t too long before I saw that first nose, more of a bump in the water, a tell-tale sign of a feeding trout.
I cast well upstream. It took a few more casts, but with some
skill luck, a good drift put the fly where it needed to be.
I’d repeat this more times than I care to recall but was rewarded with eight beautiful trout, mostly browns, all of which were no less than 13”. The biggest and prettiest crowded about 24” of beauty into 15” of fish.
Next year, I think this place will deserve an entire day of my attention.