High Waters

Jacob, Shaun and I headed out Tuesday morning to do some filming for the shop and ended up having a fantastic day on one of our small streams in the Black Hills, but it wasn't easy from the start. We'd finished up the majority of the filming for the day, and had streamer fishing on our minds. We'd already had a great day of fishing with nymphs, and had caught some great pocket-water wild rainbows and browns, so we were going to go hunting for a shot at a big fish in the afternoon. After a short lunch stop for a burger and a beer, we headed down the bumpy, potholed road. I rigged up my Epic 686 with a versileader, some Maxima 15 pound, and an articulated concoction - Shaun did the same with his Bank Robber. We walked the short hike down to the creek, and started hitting every likely-looking pocket, seam and edge. The water was high and the visibility was down to a couple feet at best - perfect streamer fishing conditions. Typically on this stretch if you're even remotely close to the right fly, you're always getting flashes, looks, bumps, and strikes. We fished down several hundred yards of creek, switching between streamers every pool and run. I had one halfhearted flash that could have been a 10 incher or a 20 incher - who knows. Shaun had a fish that was well over twenty blow up behind his fly, but never came back. Not a fish even came close to committing, which is ridiculously strange for this creek. After a dozen frantic streamer changes between the two of us, Shaun reluctantly broke down and tied on some nymphs and a bobber. Shaun had three fish on in five or six casts - apparently this wasn't a streamer day. The first fish we landed was a 16 incher that was shaped something like a tuna, and annihilated Shaun's G-String worm just after it hit the water. The water was pretty damn dirty, but the fish had no problem seeing the fly and eating it. We found the fish in surprisingly shallow water, and it was oftentimes hardly enough to cover their backs. After Shaun caught his first fish, I tied on a nymph rig with 4x and a size 8 Pat's Rubber Legs in brown that I had left over from the Madison River last summer. This is an abnormally large nymph for the Black Hills, but I figured that since the water was dirty and up the fish would be able to pick out the larger profile of the big nymph easier than a smaller, slender pattern. We leapfrogged our way up the creek, and caught fish in many likely-looking spots, as well as some that didn't look like much.
Bent up on the Epic 686.
Shaun gets ready to let a nice one loose
Jacob took photos the whole way up while Shaun and I fished, and before long we'd covered a mile of creek or so. It was starting to get a little late and were going to head back pretty quick, so we decided to fish a couple more runs and then boogie. I'd lost a couple Pat's Rubber Legs, and I was down to fishing size 4's since I ran out of all of the smaller variety. Shaun parked on a big, deep hole, and I ran up to fish the fast slot just upstream. I threw the big, rubber-legged fly just behind a boulder with some pretty fast current on each side, and it landed with an audible 'plop'. No more than a couple seconds passed and a big, bright brown came up and slashed at the fly and took off towards the fast current, and the indicator quickly followed. I lifted the rod quickly, and the fiberglass flexed under the weight of the fish and the current. I knew this was a big fish for such a small creek, and I took my time and let the Epic 686 cushion the head shakes of the fish. After a short fight, I slipped the net under him and picked the fly out. I've caught a number of brown trout, but I haven't caught many that could rival the beauty and form of this fish. He was a very healthy fish - tube-shaped almost, with an olive back that transitioned into golden yellow sides, with a pronounced blue halo behind his eyes. Jacob snapped a few quick pictures, and I slipped the fish back to the currents. We fished a couple more holes after I landed that fish, but I was content and didn't fish particularly hard afterwards. We hoofed it back to the truck, conversing about how well we had done and how different the fishing was than it typically would be. I've never really used anything that large in the Hills, but the big fly proved itself. Being versatile pays big dividends some days. We wanted to fish streamers, but instead of leaving after the fishing was marginal, we figured it out and it paid off for us. We probably landed a dozen trout between us, all of them healthy, beautiful fish. We lost a few as well, but the ones we landed more than made up for it. Overall, it was a fantastic day on the water, and Jacob was there to capture all of it with his fantastic photography skills. All pictures are taken by Jacob DeGroot - look for another video coming out in the coming days as well. Get out there, and don't be afraid to change. It pays off! Ryan