May 13, 2013

May is Always Tough Fishing in my Neck of the Woods

May is my least favorite month of the year -- for fishing, that is. I love that the weather is warming up. I love that the leaves are budding out. But I don't like the high water created by the spring run-off.

I know, I shouldn't complain. And I'm not really complaining. Its just that run-off makes my streams hard to fish. I do have some tail waters relatively nearby, but they are big waters and hard to fish without a drift boat. These are the South Fork of the Snake and the Henry's Fork below Island Park reservoir. I do fish them but they are not tenkara water. Also, there are some spring creeks nearby, in the Fort Hall bottoms, but other than a brief Mother's Day caddis hatch they usually don't get going until June.

My first love is mountain streams, but it is these that get hit with the snowmelt the worst.

This weekend I visited one of the few cutthroat streams that isn't closed until July 1st. Most are closed to allow the fish spawn to occur without disturbance. Anyway, I visited this stream just to see how the water was. There is not a USGS real-time stream flow meter on it so I can't check on-line. To see if the water is good or not I just have to go.

The water was up, but still quite clear. I decided to head in and see what I could hook into. The canyon was beautiful; the leaves just coming out and the undergrowth just breaking through the soil. The weather was very nice -- 70 degrees -- and unfortunately the sun was unimpeded by any clouds. This, combined with the high water, made the fishing more difficult.

Deep plunge pool

I have become spoiled by tenkara. When I mainly western fly fished it was not uncommon that I got skunked on streams like this. But since fishing tenkara I have become used to catching many fish in just a few hours. Today was not one of those days.

I used the 390 cm River Master with a 10 foot, #3.5 line. 2.5 feet of 5X tippet was also used and because the water was really moving I went with a #10 DC UKB.

Normally I wade with Simms Guide Boots that have HardBite star cleats in the soles. They work well for basalt and other sedimentary rock lined streams, but they don't work well for the stream I was currently fishing. It has polished, round granite rocks about 1-2 feet in diameter for a stream bed. The HardBite star cleats just slide right off these rocks making footing treacherous. But today I went with my other pair of boots, Simms Rivershed boots with AlumiBite cleats. This was the first time I had used this boot/cleat on this water and they worked great!! The aluminum cleats just stuck to these slippery rocks. I was pleased, to say the least.

The water depth varied from knee depth to waist deep.  The current was fast, but I've waded worse. I absolutely needed my wading staff today and I had to move slowly through the current so not to be pushed downstream.

Hooking into a cutthroat

I had to place the DC UKB into precise lies to hook up fish. I think because the water was high and fast they were not willing to move very far to intercept the fly. Precise casting was the order of the day. I'm not sure I did very well as my back was hurting and I was still coughing, getting over a upper respiratory infection. But I had to go to the river. I figured, "if I'm going to die, I rather die on the stream than at home on a beautiful day like today"! Needless to day, I didn't die.

Well, it's all good. Sure, I should have caught more, but I could have caught less too! I'll ride out the run-off; the temps are up to 85 this week so that should really get the water levels up! But then it will die down and the usual fishing will commence. I can't wait!

Here is a video of the fish:

Coming up: more rod reviews, line reviews, and hopefully fishing!

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