Saturday morning the flows at Spinney Ranch were approaching 50 and that's not much water. I met Scott at the Gill Trail at about 10:30 under overcast skies and temps in the mid-30's. There was only about 6 other vehicles in the lot and we started in at about 11. Once you get down into the canyon, you can walk downstream for a few hundred yards until you come to a fence that runs all the way across the river to keep mortals like me out of a very private place called the Wig Wam Club. Every once in a while you'll get some of the bigger German Browns from that club that will wander up or down stream to get away from the snobs but not often. We don't usually go down that far but we decided to today. I think Scott was actually thinking about climbing the fence. I stayed a bit upstream and waded in.
The flows were 152 when I left the house. If you can catch trout in Cheeseman, you can catch them anywhere in the world. It's tough but in the winter time, it's really tough. Snow was on the way and visibility was making it like trying to spot fish in a muddy river. Scott got into one pretty quickly but couldn't seal the deal. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to trout in that I don't like to waste time throwing flies to water that just looks fishy. I gotta have a target. So I tend to cover ground quickly. I also tend to not want to leave when I do find a decent fish. It wasn't long before I found a really nice deeper pool that held half a dozen rainbow's. I watched for a while but they just didn't look like they were eating at all. I decided to try anyways. After an hour and probably a dozen different flies, changes in the depth, a fuzz more weight, a sip of Jim Beam, I finally hooked one. It didn't last long though before she threw the hook. I still say it was a foul hook cuz I never saw a flash or the white of her mouth so I wasn't disappointed. We eventually decided to move further upstream. We actually saw quite a few nice fish throughout the day but they just didn't look to be feeding. When a trout stays in the exact same spot (doesn't move 6-8" up in depth or 6-8" either way periodically) they've got lockjaw. It seemed that being able to spot fish was just a win for the day. At one point, I was on top of a rock looking down into a deeper hole. I swear I had scanned the area for a full 2 minutes before I saw a rainbow right in front of me that taped at 16-18". I reached to unhook my fly from a guide and glanced that way for a fraction of a second and...she was gone. I never even saw her leave.
Right as the real snow started to move, we hunkered down in some large rocks and drank a beer and had lunch.
It was good to get out but it was a frustrating day in terms of fishing. There's not much a guy can do when a trout is set up in a slow moving run. In these conditions, they get all day long to check out your junk so it better be good. If the fly is a size too big or small, if they see your leader, if the color is wrong, you're busted. Normally we run a rig that is sub-surface out here. Once you get your depth set up, you run a weight about 14" up from a fly. Then we run another fly about 14" down from the lead fly. On some rivers (like the Taylor) the trout know that weight = false food. When they see weight, they slide out of the way and then go right back into their feeding lane. As frustrating as that can be, you know it's gonna a tough day when the trout just up and leave when they see your weight. That's how things went for us.