The phone ran, it was Nick G (Spicy Boy)…"How was the adventure today" he asked, "it sucked, I pricked one and that was it" I replied, "fishing tomorrow?", "most likely" I mumbled in frustration. Nick mentioned he wanted to back and get another shot at the splake. The seed was planted and ideas started to grow in my mind. I hung up the phone and debated the inspiration for an hour or so. I called him back; it was set we are leaving tonight. We tied a few flies, packed our gear, grabbed some food and made the southern midnight run.
Our plan was to get down there and crash out for a few hours, then wake up before dawn and search for the big guys. The drive went by fast, tactics and thoughts were loosely tossed about, the excitement and anticipation were now at optimum levels. Dawn came, were rigged and ready to go. The temperatures were cold but the wind was calm, yes that's right calm! Woo-hooo! The past two months have been an irritating blowing rain day after day, trip after trip; it will be nice not to have the winds high pitching sound echoing through my hood, not to mention the steady pitter-patter of rain hitting the gore-tex... like some kind of Chinese water torcher. We agreed on a starting point and worked our way around the lake, casting and moving rather quickly to locate the school of fish. After and hour of nothing we made the shift to the prime spot. We should have done this first but… you never know. Nick was working an area by a log lying on the water when his line came to a complete stop... a snag? He set the hook anyway and he was tight. It was a solid fish, the fish that we came here for. The porker Splake went nuts and was at arms length when he unfortunately spit the hook and swam away. I think Nick cried inside for a few minutes, then with excitement he blurted out in unpolluted exhilaration… "Did you see the size of that thing? holy sh&*!" he repeated over and over. Nick had lost a monster, a low-ball estimate was in the 5-6lb ranges, and we both wouldn't be surprised if it was easily over 8lbs, bummer. But is was cool to see that he was still stoked to see it, to witness a treasure that will bring him back for years to come. It was a teaser you might say, instilling just enough of a wonder to keep this place alive in our thoughts - the "what ifs" are running wild .We spent the rest of the morning working a school of fish and following the shoreline until we hit the ice; most were splake with a few cutt's in the mix. No large monsters but some feisty 14-18"ers. Each cast I kept thinking this might be the one, over and over the it replayed in my mind. I am certain that Spicy Boy was thinking the same thing, or at least hoping for another shot.... Ah, the hope.
On the way back to the car we stopped and fished a spot on the dam, well that was a mistake. Within a few casts, a guy wearing a uniform started to yell at us. "GET OFF THE DAM!" what the? Great. So we reeled up and made our way over to the officer. We thought for sure we were going to get yelled at or checked for our licenses and who know what else. To our surprise the guy was super cool, a local boy from down here and the local DWR official. He kindly explained that it was a violation of homeland security to -> fish from the dam, be near the dam or look at the dam… damn it ; ) We had driven right past the sign in the dark last night and had parked down around the bend facing the back of the posted area in the wee hours of the morning, we hiked down to the water and had walked over from the shore, 40 feet above us was the road and the posted "keep out" sign. Oops, well it was almost a bit more than an oops. He said he tried to yell over to us earlier but it was windy (yep, of course the wind kicked in) but we couldn't hear him. They arrested 5 guys the week before, interrogated them and charged them $800 in fines. Right about then he mentioned they were in a black truck and on cue the black truck drove right by us, a tad ironic it was at that exact moment… we barely missed going to jail and who knows what else. We thanked him over and over and talked about the splake, as we were very interested in his information. We gathered some great intelligence and started to head home…. but first stopping at a local river.
The river never felt better, it's been fun hitting the Stillwater and all but my passion is moving water, it just feels right. It's been too long. We scouted a few miles before picking a spot. Nick was up on a gem of a run… the cast went out and (insert drum roll here) ...nothing, change drift, nothing, change angle, nothing, changed flies, nothing, repeat the sequence, nothing. I tried and followed the same template, nothing. What the hell? Stupid fish ; ) We moved on to the next run where a rise was spotted earlier. I was up, made a few casts with absolutely no sign of interest so I changed flies... again. By now its been at least a dozen patterns thrown between the two of us. At this point I was staring in my box-o-flies, looking at nothing really, no fly stuck out. I didn't know what to toss, until it stared at me. It seems that Nick and I were both thinking the same thing…. "whatcha putting on" Nick asked, a "hog wrangler" I said, "you?", Nick laughed and said "I was tying on the same thing, different style , same color". When all else fails try something different I suppose or use something that works. The first cast was just lobed out slacker style, mainly because I wasn't expecting much, to my surprise the line went tight, a nice little brown was stuck on my fly. Lobed it back out there thinking it was somehow a fluke and I was tight again. I hollered to Nick to jump in the middle of the run, he made a cast and he was on. For the next hour we were into fish. We even had a few double ups, at one time I went 7 for 7 and lost number 8 and 9. We must have landed a few dozen fish out of one run, unbelievable. It was a great adventure and as always was painful to leave.
More now than ever I hate the city.