Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Trouty Christmas

The past few weeks in Ohio have been tough - brutally cold temperatures, snow, and no sunlight to be found anywhere.  I'm kicking myself for not planning a tropical saltwater getaway over New Years...

After banging my head against a wall, or against the Chagrin for about a week I'd had enough of being couped up inside.  I called up one of my fishing buddies, got a commitment for a couple day foray off to god knows where, and then I started to make a few calls and look at weather forecasts.  

Michigan...way too cold.

Ontario tributaries...possibility, but we'd been doing the steelhead thing all fall already.

The Delaware...highs in the high twenties.  Now we're talking.  A decent weather forecast combined with the prospect of spending a couple days throwing big flies for big fish sounded as good as anything else.

Armed with that information I called up a good buddy who grew up in the area and since then has guided there for a long time, John Miller.  During the fall and the spring Miller is working around here, guiding steelhead on our local rivers - but his heart is always on the Delaware, and that becomes evident after just a single conversation with him.  After a short talk with him the decision was made - departure time was 9:30 PM.

Twelve hours later here we were...

The weather was really cold.  The forecast wasn't even close.  Highs were in the low twenties, the wind was howling, and when you're standing in a boat that makes for a damn cold day.  

I won't go through the details of each minute of the two days we were there, but I will share a couple awesome moments, funnies stories, and of course, some of the fish porn accumulated over the time we were there.

Two particular moments stand out in my mind.  Neither involved me actually catching the fish that was involved in either of them.  When I go fishing, nothing gets me more excited than being somewhere with the potential for big fish.  The Delaware is one of those river systems with the ridiculous amount of food and habitat for a big fish to live.

Near the very end of the first day we were floating through a section of water that just looked fishy.  We'd had a couple fish chase and follow up a little bit higher in the run, and were moving into water that was a little bit deeper, a little bit slower, and had some really big boulders scattered through it.  I slapped a big white articulated fly down just off the bank.  As I stripped it back a shape emerged behind it.  It was a huge fish - the brown trout of a lifetime.  My heart was pounding, I was yelling.  With each and every strip I kept cursing the fish for not crushing the fly.  I stripped faster and faster, and the fish was just inches behind the entire time.  The fish followed the fly for about thirty feet, until there was absolutely no way I could keep the fly moving.  I swung the rod back around the front of the boat, and twitched the tip to keep the fly going but to no avail.  Just as quickly as the fish had come, it was gone.

On day two we took a smaller side channel where we had moved and hooked a couple fish the day before. I casted to a stump, gave a few quick pulls, and my fly was absolutely throttled.  I gave a couple hard strip sets, and then for the next thirty seconds I got absolutely owned by the fish.  The 7 weight was doubled all the way over, and the fish was tearing up and down the river. One second I was tight to what might have been the biggest brown I've ever hooked, and the next second the line was limp.  

That's the beauty of big fish I guess - you might see them, you might hook them, but to catch them everything has to go just right.  More times than not, it doesn't.

And now for the pictures...

Why is he dumping a cooler out in to the river?  Because he knocked one of the plugs out.  

That's a happy Fabian.

Big n' white.

This is the net levitating.  Santa anyone?

Purty fish.

Cold hands, but a warm looking fish.

One of the good ones.

Great eat out of this one.

Fabian with his fish.

Big mouth = big flies.

Another good one.

Merry Christmas to all of the dudes out there.  See you on the water.

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