Originally written September, 2005.
Ever find yourself suddenly – gloriously! -- FREE for a day? I did; very recently in fact.
There’s a modest drainage in a relatively non-descript area of a somewhat overlooked southern California National Forest that has been drawing me back time and time again this year (this was my 3rd trip to the region this year, my 2nd as a fly fisher). It’s a very small stream, the area is loaded with biting blackflies, and, overall, the place is kind of scruffy; however, there’s a certain color -- and spunk -- to the wild fish that inhabit this stream, and I find it delightfully intriguing.
So, on my unexpectedly free day, I found myself driving the 87 miles from my doorstep to this stream, carrying – for the first time – a 6’6” Diamondback Diamondglass 3-wt small-stream rod, one which a very kind soul on this board has let me “try out” for a season, just to see how I like it.
After arriving around 11:00AM and slathering myself in my favorite wilderness cologne – Eau de Deet – I made my way upstream, up good old Pink Diamond Creek:
As usual, it took me a solid, frustratingly fishless hour until I began to “dial in” the stream. I always seem to be a bit impatient when I first hit a stream, and this day was no exception. At first, I tried this, that, and the other fly (stimulators, streamers and nymph-and-indicator, in that order), to no avail. I began to doubt myself and my techniques.
My manhood came into question, frankly.
When I spooked an absolutely gorgeous, red-banded-and-purple-parr-marked wild rainbow from under a log in an otherwise totally exposed location, I began to think that I’d be eating skunk this fine autumn day. Listen: that spooked fish had absolutely beautiful coloration – I saw her every marking in the crystal-clear waters – and she was easily 12”. Damn these eyes!
Then I stumbled onto a larger-than-average pool and proceeded to switch to a classic fly: a tan-and-yellow #16 EHC. Before I knew it, I had caught and released four lovely, wild rainbow trout – all of them dinks (2”-4” range). I KNEW the pool held bigger fish – I saw an 8”-er rise not 5 feet in front of me – but I had been spastically reckless in my approach and, in all likelihood, had spooked the big ‘uns under a big rock near the tail.
From that point on, I took extra pains to be stealthy. I started crawling up to locations, keeping my profile low and my body crouched against the horizon. I tried not to make a noise. I stopped breathing for a moment, then decided to start again.
Guess what? It worked.
The stealthy “I am a predator” Ted Nugent(tm) approach –as I always seem to stupidly forget – paid off. I began catching some of the larger denizens (the largest was nine inches in the Measure Net) of this sweet little babbling brook. This one was taken from a pool that was about head-high, upstream from me as I stood in the spray of a small waterfall, tossing my EHC into the sunny pool at eye-level, the others were found in similar locations (wow, what a challenge!):
And so went my afternoon, spent in a haze of dry-fly drifts and spunky trout fights.
By the way, the Diamondglass RULED! What a fantastic small-stream weapon. This thing worked like a dream, casting with distance – such as it was -- when I needed it, and mostly used for “flipping” my dry fly from the end of the drift back to the head of the pool (again, this is TINY water). Nice rod, very nice. I like it. Now, if only it were a four-piece instead of a two-piece.
Later, on the way out, this fine tarantula was spotted:
Nothing like the feeling of another wonderful day alone spent with a fly rod in hand, taking home a head full of wild trout memories. Gee, I think I'll invite about 8 buddies on an overnighter here soon -- spreading the word is what it's all about...here's a shot of the road to help you guess where this is...