Spring has sprung.
Water - Susie Q Farm (Private)
Date – April 2013
Partners – Andy
Productive flies - woolly bugger (olive, black, crystal, cone head, bead head)
Not so productive flies – kreelex
Water – clear, and a little low
Weather – partly cloudy to sunny, 50 – 78 degrees
A long overdue fishing trip with a Rosetta Stone colleague and friend has come to pass. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly three months since I fished Susie Q Farm. I was a little concerned about catching fish since the last trip didn’t result in a lot of numbers, but I was sure to catch good conversation with Andy. So I focused on helping him out as much as possible during his first fly fishing trip. If you haven’t done it, taking a newbie fly fishing takes some REAL restraint to focus on helping them vs. focusing on your own fishing. At least for me, it takes practice. Some newbies get it right out, others require a little more attention.
Long overdue fun.
I doubled up on my tippet (purchased 0-5x flouro too) and leaders. I was certain Andy would be in the trees which were well into displaying their beautiful but snaggy foliage.
The forecast called for rain in the afternoon but sunny skies and warm temps. When we arrived the water was definitely a little lower than I remembered and very clear. I’d brought my new custom C.F. Burkheimer (bday rod) with me and was settled on fishing it myself. Turns out Andy did better with a full flex rod so I used the Helios 5wt (over lined with a 6wt). Oddly enough, that Helios is a strong rod so over lining it isn’t a concern, but it seemed to cast more easily in close and it made the 30-40ft cases relatively well. It was plenty for this section of Smith Creek.
We started out with some lawn casting then moved into the water at the ford. Eventually, when we had the casting down, I tied on an olive krystal bugger. From past experience, woolly buggers had been the most productive for me here.
Starting out at the broken bridge is customary since it would be ready by the time we return to the car. The trout were tending to hold against the far bank in the shadows. They also hold a little further downstream closer to the overhanging sycamore branches. I managed pulling one out early.
Small, but the first one of the day is always special. Since, it may be the only one!
It was close to 10am and time for a break. While Andy managed a conference call I ended hooking but not landing what felt like a hefty rainbow.
I suggested we move up to the waterfall hole since the water conditions and bright skies reminded me of the weather I encountered on my first trip here. With any luck we’d have plenty of opportunities to land some good sized trout there. As I suspected the water was clear and I could see 5 – 8 trout holding just off the little shoal. I tied on a triple colored kreelex and having given Andy the better position, had to face away from the direction I was casting.
Immediately I had two trout chasing the kreelex but no strike. I tried a few more casts with no lucky. I put on the olive krystal bugger when clouds moved in and got more strikes and a couple of hook ups.
I tied on the kreelex for Andy, put him in the same spot and showed him where to cast. But he was unable to get the rhythm down with the full flex rod now that we were no longer practicing. It was a constant theme that played out the rest of the day.
I’m finding that while newbies can ‘feel’ a rod load with a full flex rod, most end up casting too fast when actually fishing and are probably better suited to a ‘faster’ action when the real fishing begins. Although, it’s said that a slower action rod is more forgiving of sloppy casting. Maybe that’s why a mid flex is the most popular rod.
We decided to break for lunch and on the way back I decided to try a hole that has proven to be hard to get into. Jess from Mossy Creek Fly Shop said he recently pulled six big trout from it. He catches muskies so they must be good size trout. Instead of fishing from below it, I took it from a position facing downstream. Being short is good for a lot of things. I was able to side arm under the sycamores and immediately hooked up with what was easily a 20+ rainbow that jumped and smacked down with a loud “pop!” It threw the hook. I got 3-4 more strikes in there but no hookups.
After a gourmet lunch prepared by Andy we headed back for the waterfall hole. Thinking the trout were tired of seeing olive krystal buggers, I tied on one of my own flies. A brown estaz, gold bead head and rusty/fire red marabou bugger. That turned them on. The first cast drew three trout toward it. I ended up hooking one but foiled the fin and grin. A nice 20″ rainbow for sure. A second cast hooked another big one but it broke off the knot. I had just said to myself ”I haven’t broke a double-surgeon knot yet.”
Fishing is funny like that.
Butter fingers. Too bad, it was the largest for the day.
Andy did eventually hook up with a nice rainbow that broke off before we could net it (note to self, get a longer handled net). We headed for the upper section which typically produces. A few strikes but no hookups at the picnic grounds. Andy had a nice size chaser on a black krystal bugger but no taker. I decided to head to the big sycamore near the start of the property. I was sure there was at least one in that pool. An olive krystal bugger did the trick.
I missed this one once before on the last trip. Got him this time and put him back for hopefully next time.
We worked our way back to the car intent on fishing our way out. But, the sun had worked us over so we decided to just fish the parking lot holes. I ended pulling out a nice one. It broke off at the end and while it rested I jumped in to scoop it up. I count that as fair.
An 18″ hefty rainbow.
Finally a decent fin and grin.
It was close to 430 so we decided to call it quits. I dropped off Andy and headed back to hit the rainbows under the sycamores. After positioning myself in the same place I immediately got hits on the olive krystal bugger. No more strikes afterwards so I changed up the color. Black did the trick but it wasn’t the big ones from earlier. I guess I’m getting snobbish because I didn’t take a picture of that bow.
I decided to revisit the waterfall hole and make a pitch for more big ones. No luck but I did end up pulling out two more rainbows.
About a 14″ rainbow from the waterfall hole.
Another 14″ rainbow from the waterfall hole.
By now my forearm was getting tired so I decided to head for the parking lot. But, I decided to give the last hole another go just as the rain clouds started to roll in. Again, the olive krystal bugger pulled in the last two of the day. All told I landed about ten rainbows and a slew of pan fish and chubs. My single best day yet at Susie Q Farm.
A slim but fun 16″ bow.
The last one of the day. A fat 13″er.
A little over a month after the 2013 Spring Equinox, dame Spring has finally started to show her colors.
I even saw more smaller fish in Smith Creek, besides chubs. Not pictured here, but there were probably more hookups with chubs, blue gill, pumpkin seeds and even rock bass. In slower, warmer, silty water a slow retrieve would always produce these little guys.
Their eagerness can sometimes be annoying.
The parting glance
I had been thinking about how much luck vs. experience attributes to successful fly fishing. Time is everything. The more experience you have with your tackle and gear the less time you waste. You learn to recognize the most productive, fishy looking spots and concentrate your efforts there.
But, I think experience casting is the most important part of the equation. I will say that my first fly fishing experience has been similar to many newbies. Unfamiliarity with a rod leads to tangles around the rod and surroundings. Several back casts end up snagged. And those few casts that do get forward hardly make it to the current—where the fish typically are.
This outting proved that no matter if someone gives you the exact fly they just used to catch a trout and put you in the exact same spot and show you were to cast and how to fish it, you won’t catch fish if you can’t cast well. I even put the same fly back on and cast to the exact same spot Andy was trying to get to and landed another trout. I’m not knocking Andy, it was his first time.
I’m no expert caster. When I switch between rods of different flex/action I have to get reacquainted with the right timing. But after those few initial casts, getting the fly in the right place produces fish.
I’m thankful for all the time I spend casting on my lawn and at a friend’s stocked farm pond.
Maybe I should take newbies there first. They’d have plenty of practice feeling a rod load on water, the backcasts are clear of snags and the bass, albeit small, are very eager to bite.
The most beautiful rainbow of the day.