It’s surprising how much time can be spent learning all the subtitles of a river. While the knowledge gained on a single river is transferable, there will always be unique challenges and secrets to discover when fishing new water. Often, it’s difficult to pass up fishing your familiar stomping grounds – that spot you’ve put countless hours into and feel the most confident fishing. It’s easy, it’s fun and there’s a high chance that you’ll net a good number of fish. Exploring new water often results in fish-less days, which can be frustrating, especially when your fishing time is limited. However, not only will fishing unfamiliar water make you a better fly fisher, but every once in a while you’ll discover a hidden gem.
Every year I spend a great deal of time exploring new water. Most of the time I’m simply scouting out new sections of my favourite local river, though occasionally I’ll travel to a new river or stream. My most recent fixation is a section of water that I’ve overlooked for years, mainly out of laziness and a hunch that it would be unproductive and impossible to fish. This is a smaller branch of a local river, with much different characteristics from the main branch. The river here is narrow, fast and broken with lots of little pools. Turns out, it’s exactly what I love in a river: scenic, full of character and challenging. This is the type of water where stealth, patience and effort pays dividends.
At first glance, this river appears extremely shallow and fast, not exactly what most fly fishers consider productive water. However, a closer look and some footwork reveals a number of small pools that are created by this fast water plunging over rocks and tiny falls. Many of these pools are too small to drift a fly through using a traditional fly cast – instead, one must carefully approach from behind and high stick a dry fly or nymph through the hole. Others holes are larger and have the potential of holding a number of decent sized fish.
I’ve caught a pretty even mix of Brook Trout and Brown Trout on this water, which is good to see (stop trying to take away our Brown Trout, MNR). Most of the fish are small to average sized, though I’ve heard of some trophy sized browns inhabiting this section as well.
My favourite dry fly for other sections of this river – the Stimulator – has been even more productive here. This is no surprise given the huge number of stone flies I’ve seen here.
I’ve found that when fish are less keen to take a dry, giving it some action by skating it across the surface will often produce a strike. This is another benefit of the Stimulator, since it floats so well.
There are about four larger holes that I’ve found, as well as a fairly long stretch of nice looking deep water at the bottom of a steep ravine that is nearly impossible to fish. I’m convinced there are some very nice fish down there!
One thing this river is notorious for is making you hike a very long way to find larger holes. The one above has produced a couple fish – the brown pictured below as well as a good sized rainbow that my friend hooked into and lost before we could get it into the net. I’m convinced there are bigger fish in here, but I’ve yet to see them.
These pics were taken earlier in the season, though I’ve returned a few times with good results. However, tonight (technically last night now) was a different story. I drove up for a couple hours of fishing before dark, but rather than spend that time actually fishing, I spent it tracing my steps back along the dense forest path, where (in typical style for me) I managed to drop my BlackBerry. I spent nearly 2 hours retracing my steps, only to give up hope and eventually, by some miracle, find my phone lying face down on the dirt while heading back to my car in the pitch-dark.
This season has been somewhat of a disaster for me on the front of losing or damaging things and thankfully tonight was not an addition to that list. But those are stories for another night!