October 9, 2009

Nat Park

The Pipe Line. San Soucci. The Nursing Center Run... all the names I've given to this particular stretch of TDR. But I was thinking about it the other day, and it came to me that there's some real history here. Why not refer to this place by honoring its glory days as the Lilac City's pride and joy? Plus, turns out that Spokane and I share that same sentiment; mine being more aptly applied to my experiences with the fish, especially in this particular section. But, I can remember being here at a much younger age, sitting high above TDR on a merry-go-round, as thousands of folks below me enjoyed the carnival atmosphere of Natatorium Park, or, as it affectionately came to be known, Nat Park. And I remember how even then, that with all the scenery that might have drawn my eye, it was the moving water of the river that my gaze was usually fixed upon. I wasn't a fly fisherman then; I wasn't much of anything other than a very (I thought) normal kid. And don't think for a minute that I'm going to try to draw some relevance from this, other than the fact that yes, I loved seeing the water, and yes, after all those years I've returned and am once again enjoying this very spot.
There's now a trailer park, for some reason called San Soucci, where the Park used to be. It's right across the river from what was up until a year ago a nursing school. And just off to the left (downstream) of the picture, spanning the river is an old trestle which, I'm told, once held a large pipe which carried water for residential use to the residents south of the river in that area. Many names, but from now on for me, it's Nat Park again. It's also a good reference point for people familiar (or not) with the river. Amazing how many people not from the area will know where Nat Park was.
I've had some fabulous fishing experiences over the years right in that section in the picture. Most of them have occurred at twilight or later. The fish here hang back, in the deeper water at the downstream end of this run, until darkness begins setting in, and the caddis start coming off. Then you can watch them, slowly working their way upstream into the faster water, chasing the emerging caddis. By dark there are splashy rises all up and down the the edges of the fast flows here, and that's why there's also a picture of my beloved soft hackle; it's the fly that I've developed over the years because of the sheer numbers of caddis that almost continually hatch here. It imitates a mature nymph swimming to the surface to take wing, and it has hooked more fish for me here than any other. The coloration almost exactly replicates that of the natural.
And the fish? Rainbows. Maybe a brown once in a while, or a cutbow, but mainly rainbows. They hit savagely, are extremely strong, and have adapted to their dark environment with dark coloration on their backs and striking copper-like hues running from the gills to the adipose.
I need to talk somebody into coming with me so I might be able to photograph the fish. As it is, by myself, it's almost impossible to handle a rod, the fish, and a camera while standing in that fast water... in the dark!

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