March 18, 2010


Confidence is such a fragile and precious thing.
David Duval

The egoism which enters into our theories does not affect their sincerity; rather, the more our egoism is satisfied, the more robust is our belief.
George Eliot

A few days ago I made the two and a half hour drive out west to Rocky Ford Spring Creek. Weather-wise, it was spectacular. Chamber of Commerce type stuff. Thin, high clouds, temperatures in the mid 60s, and just the friendliest of breezes. And the fishing wasn't too bad either. The fishing is never bad; sometimes the catching, for one reason or several more, doesn't always live up to our expectations. And that, it turns out, is a perfect segue into this offering.
As far as spring creeks go, Rocky Ford is not your atypical stream. Its trout population is bolstered and proliferated by a hatchery that lies a short distance below the place where the waters first come out of the ground. There are approximately two and a half miles of fishable water below the hatchery until the creek runs onto private lands. Below the private lands there are a couple more, if you don't mind hooking the occasional carp, walleye, or perch.
But the upper end of Rocky Ford is where the best action is to be found. There are rainbow here ranging in size from twelve to thirty inches. They grow fast, which is easy to understand when you become aware of the fact that this creek is a glutton's paradise. It's a trout food-producing machine. At all times there are a variety of menu items available. And that can prove extremely hazardous to those flyfishermen who come here. Especially the ones with fragile egos.
To be effective here on a regular basis, a decent working knowledge of the many food sources can, most times, provide a real advantage as can familiarity with specific colorations, sizes, and movement. Some days it is a must, and some days, well, it can be so frustrating as to defy explanation.
Weekends are the absolute worst times to fish Rocky Ford, for the obvious reason. The old adage of 'if you can see them they've already seen you' is taken a step further into 'if they can hear you good luck'. I've witnessed many a flyfisher's undoing at the fins of these fish. I call it the fishbowl effect.
It is amazing to watch these trout in their natural habitat. Problem is, it's made less than natural because we can do just that, even more so by many of the guys who stomp up and down the banks (there's no wading here) looking for fish to cast to.
That's why I 'don't go there' on weekends. It's a real circus, and those who are there expecting to fish in the company of other respectful, courteous fishermen better realize that etiquette is just another word in the dictionary having nothing to do with fishing.
During the week, it more closely resembles and fishes like a true spring creek. I believe Tuesday, or Wednesday to be the two best days to be there. Monday gives the fish a chance to recover from the shock of the weekend. Beginning Thursday afternoon and on through Sunday night, there are usually enough fishermen there to virtually fill every niche in the cattails that line most of the creek. Even during the winter. Talk about extreme pressure! I have at times wondered what kind of offspring will be eventually produced if and when successive generations of these trout are constantly exposed to so many fishermen, their flies, and mostly, to their lack of respect. But I try not think about it too much. It upsets me.
Tuesday was, as I stated earlier, a perfect day. I fished for about 6 hours, from eight in the morning, until around two. I landed fish with scuds in the first two hours, and then stayed ahead of the curve when I saw chironomids in an esophagus sample. I've been working on several types of a trapped midge emerger, and I got the chance to employ those for a very short period after fishing the venerable chironomid under an indicator. But that didn't last long, as a # 14 callibaetis began coming to the surface shortly after I had switched to the midge. The callibaetis don't waste any time trying to get airborne as soon as they are free from their shuck, and their ability to get into the air prompted many younger fish to come clear out of the water in pursuit.
As quickly as it began, it was over. By noon the surface was quiet and reasonably clear of any hatch activity, so I went back to the scud. And proceeded to draw blanks. Out of sheer frustration with the lack of time remaining, I cut back my leader and went to my secret weapon. The black marabou leech.
As I fished my way back downstream, stopping itinerantly here or there to cast, I landed several more strong, aggressive fish. But most of all, I had a ball casting far across the wider sections and watching the bow wakes appear as I erratically stripped back my leech.
The leech really works well shortly before sunset and into the darkness. My own experience with it tells me that I will entice strikes from aggressive feeders even at midday, as was the case here.
I have learned, over the years, that there is never too much I can know, or learn. I have the opportunity to add to my 'toolbox' with each fishing experience. And the more I can assimilate and understand, the better prepared I am. All of which translates into a stronger belief system which will serve me well if and when I encounter situations whose solutions have yet to be discovered.
That's part of the magic. Solving the mystery because I believe I can.
But that's also why it's called fishing, and not catching, isn't it.

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