It's been a strange summer. It seems that we either have no rain, monsoons, or high humidity with near hundred degree days. That said, fishing has been slow. The water temps have hovered around the 70 to 75-degree levels, to high for me to risk stressing trout out. Smallmouth fishing became a much bigger focus this summer for me.
Fishing streamers from a drift boat was a nice departure for a while, but the familiar Amish trout waters were a constant thought. And then the monsoons came. In less than a forty-eight-hour stretch, we received almost six inches of much-needed water. So much so, a client canceled a planned trip. I used this gap in my schedule to do a little prospecting on the extreme lower end of the Lil E. The young lads had been reporting hooking Club 22 sized trout with regularity, though they had failed to bring any to hand.
The air was warm though the sky a crisp gray has the clouds quickly move towards the North. More rain was in the forecast. The water was surprisingly clear for the amount of rain we had; I assumed the spill off hadn't yet caught up to the stream. The rain came soon into my journey upstream. At times raining so hard I would swear it was raining up!
Rain prevailed for the next four hours. I had switched to a new streamer pattern and started pounding the structure and pools. The river conditions continued to deteriorate. Suddenly, has my fly swung in front of a log jam I saw a flash and then another of two fish chasing my fly. I resisted the urge to slow my strip and completed a perfect strip set of a 16" beautiful rainbow. Chasing beside the rainbow, what had to be ever bit of a 22" brown!
After releasing the bow, I chased the brown, though he was never to be seen again.
One fish. A good one at that. Having decided to tuck in my light weight rain jacket to my waders, I was soaked from head to toe. The next day I decided to get caught up on my Honey-Do list. I headed into town to get some coffee and lawn fertilizer. I received an alert on my phone; it was an Instagram post from Beach. He was fishing! I called him for a report.
"I'm giving it another hour and heading home." he said, "The river looks like chocolate milk and fishing's been impossible."
I hung up and was strangely glad the fishing was bad. No temptation to put off the yard work and hit the stream. Walking into the local Menard's I once again felt my phone buzz.
"You have got to get out here!!" an anxious Beach shouted on the other line. "I'm killing it with streamers and just stabbed one of the biggest fish I've seen out here!"
At this point, I assumed he wanted me to take pics of the trout, thinking he had caught it. I turned around, informed Beach that I would be out there in twenty minutes and headed for the river. Yard work be Damned!!
The area that Beach was fishing was fishing a good half our hike. I had put on my rain gear again as I could hear the distant growl of thunder. My pace was deliberate, so much so that my sunglasses fogged and sweat washed the bug spray from my brow. Rain has brought out the first real army of mosquitos.
I saw Beach, standing on the grassy shore sipping his water and pointing to where he thought I should cross the river. "Did you spike them all?" I asked.
"No, I've been waiting for you! This whole stretch is virgin water!" He said as he motioned down the Latte colored stream.
"You're a gentleman and scholar, Beach... And a better man than me!" I said in my best Scottish brogue.
The truth is he is. Beach had sat there for the better part of an hour waiting. Not wanting to spoil the water.
Beach is much more familiar with this stretch of water than I. I had lent my five weight streamer rod to a friend who broke theirs and only had four weights and six weight in the trout wagon. I decided to opt for my Recon Salt 6, a new streamer rod from Orvis that I love for smallmouth. The line was equipped with a 10ft. sink tip. I roll cast across the narrow stream and soon missed a trout! I knew I had the right bug on now. A new creation. A variation of Fox Stadler style Clouser Minnow I dubbed The Amish Chub.
Beach filmed me for a while with his go pro until I wrapped my fly 10' into the tree behind me. It took me nearly 5 minutes to retrieve the fly (leave no-fly behind!), and Beach had begun to fish. I got my bearings back and fished slowly behind him.
We were chatting and catching up when I saw a swirl and felt a serious tug. I separated my hands and pulled my life tight against my foe. I knew I had a Toad!
"Beach!!!! This is a fish now son!" I shouted.
"I got it all on film," he said calmly.
I gave Beach a quick glance and smiled has the beast took the line downstream. "Where are the snags!?!" I demanded.
"Everywhere!" he replied.
I slowly turned my rod parallel to the river and moved the fish away from danger and back to the middle of the stream. He jumped and shot upstream once again taking line as he cruised by! Once again, I turned the beast a felt like I was now in control. "Beach, you got a net?" I asked.
"Yep." he replied holding up a small landing net with a 14" opening.
"That's not a F*&^%ng net!" I shouted. "Get MINE!"
He assured me he had it under control, and he did. Landing the exhausted fish on his first stab.
Many high fives and cheers followed. After a few quick pics, we safely revived and released the beautiful buck male. He meaured just over 20", with the girth of a much bigger fish. Another healthy Amish Trout!
I didn't fish much longer. After all, I still had chores to get done. Later that evening, Beach informed me that he had actually turned the GoPro off instead of on and didn't get any of the epic fight on film. I didn't care a bit! After all, how could you get mad at a guy who called you out to share that experience, and then save the best stretch of water for you?