Time: 7:00PM – 9:00PM
Location: Eagle Ranch
Fish Landed: 6
Dave G was adamant that we were going to fish Saturday evening in spite of protestations from our wives. Dave G had discovered a place with a three foot undercut bank, and he wanted to experiment with a mouse fly tumbling off the bank. I was skeptical that this tactic could work in a small tributary stream such as Brush Creek. Call me a doubting Thomas.
We finished our Thai curry noodle bowl dinners and did some clean up then headed to the stream. We hiked upstream on the path from the house beyond the bridge over the creek and then another .2 miles or so then cut down to the creek. I tied on the usual Letort hopper trailing a beadhead hares ear. Dave was using a Purple Haze trailing a beadhead pheasant tail. Once again we hopped from pool and run to pool and run. I was giving Dave first crack at each attractive stretch of water, but he was staying back from the water so I could try my flies after he’d taken first shot.
Dave was getting quite a few refusals to the Purple Haze on his first casts to new water. My combination wasn’t doing a thing, and I had little confidence that this would change. There were quite a few caddis flitting about as daylight faded so I tied on a bushy size 14 caddis with a palmered body. This provoked at least a refusal. Perhaps they liked the caddis concept but I needed to go smaller? I replaced the bushy caddis with a sparse light gray deer hair caddis on a size 16 hook. Nothing. Finally we neared the two long runs that Dave was targeting with his mouse. Dave G moved up ahead to work the mouse, but suggested I try something darker to contrast against the sky. I searched my fly pocket and came upon a size 14 royal stimulator that I’d tied several years ago out of the Scott Sanchez book. The fly had a 2XL hook with peacock herl body and a red floss section in the middle. A hackle was palmered over the body and a white calf tail wing swept back over the body down wing style.
I noticed a small soft area of water against a three foot high bank on the opposite side of the main current. I figured Dave hadn’t touched this water, and perhaps I could get a decent downstream drift by positioning above the slack water and feeding down to it before the main current grabbed my line. I was right. On the third cast a 12 inch brown slashed at the stimulator, and I landed my first fish of the evening.
Next I moved upstream to the first of the long runs that Dave was targeting. The next half hour or so turned out to be some of the most memorable fishing ever. The sun had just dropped below the horizon and daylight was waning. Some birds (nighthawks?) with wide wings and white stripes on the wing were flying frantically back and forth up and down the stream eating insects and adding to the excitement. First I tossed the royal stimulator to the tail of the run and wham I was hooked to a powerful brown. I landed it quickly and dried my fly. The only thing that limited my fish count over the next half hour or so was the time it took to play and release the powerful browns I was catching. In almost every case the trout slashed my fly, and when I set the hook they rocketed upstream and beneath the undercut bank. Only strong side pressure prevented losing the fish. In every case the royal stimulator was embedded deep in the mouth of the fish, an indication that they were taking the fly with confidence. When I’d landed the fifth fat brown, I asked Dave G to photograph me. I offered him the stretch I’d been fishing and one of my flies. He declined the fly, but did swap runs with me.
I moved to the last run before the private boundary and promptly landed a 13 inch brown. The royal stimulator had now produced fish in three separate locations so it was beyond fluke status. When I returned to the first run with the deep undercut bank, Dave G accepted my royal stimulator offer, but struggled to thread the eye with the waning light and a poorly tied fly. I’d crowded the head with the calf tail wing and also closed it with head cement. Dave held his light while I managed to thread the hook eye and tie a clinch knot. Alas, the calf tail fibers were pulling free due to all the handling and poor workmanship on my part. Dave G got in a few casts, but the lack of white wing for visibility and the fact that I’d already pulled four fish from the water provided difficult circumstances. We called it an evening and returned to the house. Wow!