June 20, 2011

Rings... of a sort.

Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.
Herman Hesse

Summer warily approaches. On the calendar, anyway. Daylight, in its extended version, is really the only bowing to what should ordinarily be occurring . For this year, that's just about the end of any similarity to most of the summers in my recallable lifespan.
Yes, it's almost summer now, and yes it's been blazing hot elsewhere on our mudball, but here? Well, let me just sum it up with this;
Here in the great Pacific Northwest (where we all swear to the gods of our four wonderful seasons) we have yet to even crack the eighty degree mark. In fact, we are setting records (albeit a dubious standard)with each passing day for taking so damned long to get there. That may happen some time this week. I've got my fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath... yet.

My tomato plants(and I) should be given medals. Beyond the cold, moist month just passed, they (with my constant help), have survived (so far) vicious assaults from an unprecedented horde of slugs. I have never seen such numbers of the slimy little warriors, but maybe soon, just maybe, I will have a new ally with which to do battle, beyond the wet boards, carpet remnants and beer tubs.

Heat... but I'm not, as stated above, going to count on it.

But that's not where I'm going to take this post. TDR, which is my river, or for those of you who don't often visit, officially the Spokane River, is still running at over twenty-two thousand cubic feet per second. And here it is almost the first day of that period of time we love to call SUMMER.
Twenty-two thousand cfs!! Some years, that's more run-off than we experience at peak run-off time in May! And you should've seen it this year. I marked it on the calendar. On May twenty-eighth the gauge a mile above several of my favorite fishing haunts registered thirty-three thousand eight hundred cubic feet per second. And that's not even a month ago! All of which means that, whenever flows do finally drop low enough to fish (hopefully down to under six thousand by mid-July), I'll be putting in some extra time just re-acquainting myself with all of the structural changes, because that much force for so long really changes the landscape of the river's bottom, which means changed lies and current breaks, to name just the obvious differences. The biggest difference will be the flows themselves when I can go fish it again. I cannot remember ever fishing the river in July when the flows were even close to six thousand. Usually it's been maybe three, or even under.

With that in mind, I think I mentioned (I did) in an earlier post our obscenely low (record low) spring temperatures, and I also made reference to record rainfall totals. Well, little has changed since that time, both facets serving to retard the usual time frame for run-off, also taking note of the fact that we had a bumper crop of snowfall last winter (150% of normal) which is still visible on the mountains to the east and north. So, yes, this year will be very different from all the others, or at least any that I can remember, and I've been fishing my river for quite a while.

But I've got a secret weapon. Not that I can say I acquired it for just this reason, but this year it's really going to come in handy, probably until August or even later. I've used it on occasion in the past, as kind of a way to break up the routine. And it's provided me with success in that with it I can reach water that's normally out of range.

IT is a twelve-foot four-piece five weight, made by Sage and lined with a Windcutter seven weight-forward dry line.

I even named it. Sting. A good snap roll will send my bead head soft hackle out a good seventy feet or more if/when I time it perfectly. That's upping the odds when I'm thinking I'll be working with even less room for any kind of backcast this year. I'd be a little worried if there were better chances for dry fly opportunities as this rod, however well designed to deliver weighted flies, is a bit too much for any delicate presentations of blue-winged olives, caddis, or smaller patterns requiring some technical skill as far as a soft landing is concerned. It can be done, in a pinch, but since by far and away the best and often the biggest fish are hooked by subsurface methodry, I doubt I'll press it into service for that. And, later, into the fall as the lower flows create space for actual casting, I have a spot where I can overhand Sting. Now we're talking about about putting some distance into the equation. It's so cool to feel the power of the rod as it uncoils, sending my soft hackle over a hundred feet down and across. Not bragging. It's awesome. I wish I had a movie of me casting there. Hell, I wish I had even a picture! I won't go into that again. Hard to take pictures of yourself, unless you have the whole thing set up and on a timer and yeah wouldn't all that be just grand except who's mule is going to carry all that expensive stuff down the river for me?
But, I wander, which is in all reality probably okay because I'm pretty sure (at this point) that I'm the only one reading these things! Honk if you're reading along!

I'm going to write the final chapter on this spring/summer's Rocky Ford experience on Saturday with my son Aaron. It's so cool that he found time to break away from his new job at Seattle Genetics to head over this way to fish with me. I've been tying like crazy. In addition to what's already in the box, I've tied up a couple dozen dark scuds, a dozen or so chironomids, a few teeny tiny pheasant tails, some articulated leeches and a couple of itty-bitty dries, although I doubt we'll actually use them. Nice to have them there, but this scud thing has gotten serious, especially lately. Having dialed in the color has been the key and made it my go-to pattern when I'm there. Hopefully all I've come to understand about the Ford in the past few months will translate into a bent rod for Aaron. There's nothing like hooking big, hot trout, but that takes a backseat to watching my son hook up. That's the real stuff!
We have a great new fly shop in town. I've mentioned it in earlier posts. It's an awesome shop. I spend an inordinate amount of time (when I'm there) talking fishing with the owner(s), and we've made tentative plans to fish my river together this summer/fall, and so we spend a good amount of time picking each other's brains. Turns out that John is intimate with the river above my uppermost reaches. Places where I've always wanted to explore but haven't gotten to as yet. Likewise for him as far as my area of expertise. So, if it pans out, and we all know about making plans, this year on the Spokane might just be the most interesting yet. I'll keep me posted.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, it did. 2 Fish in my first 5 ugly casts? I will take it.