Color me shocked.
The runoff hasn't really begun in earnest (the Upper Sac will hit five digit flows when it does), but last week's warm days saw the Upper Sac edging up past 3000 cfs, and a quick visit to my local small stream candidate confirmed it was roaring.
For those of us looking for a small stream experience, that left Stream Z; a beautiful little spring/freestone/meadow stream ("It's, three, three streams in one") that fishes better during the early season.
Still, I expected we'd arrive to find it over its banks, and even warned Wayne -- who foolishly volunteered to make the 45 minute drive despite the potential for an immediate return trip, wading boots unwetted.
Fly fishermen subsist largely on hope, and after a long winter spent locked in the grip of sickness or work or whatever - and facing months of unfishably high streams due to runoff -- the hope for a dry-fly caught small stream trout was too much to resist.
Gentlemen, unlimber the Hail Mary.
I'm tempted to note the bite was pretty tough; I held my breath during a lot of "perfect" drifts down the perfect current tongue, and usually had nothing to show for it.
My six fish came from surprisingly slow water; the first brown trout ate my bug on my second cast, and sucked it down so daintily I almost didn't set the hook (hope, apparently precedes belief).
Still, these were the same beautiful brown trout I remembered; some were a flashy metallic gold, others were that buttery yellow color that makes brown trout seem manmade.
Most were less than ten inches, though I'd suggest two made the double-digit club, and in truth, only a real asshole looks down on a small trout when -- just an hour before -- he was begging for any trout.
The Gear StuffWayne fished a 9' 4wt I'd suggest was the wrong rod for heavily timbered, brushy waters, and before we found ourselves on an open meadow stretch where the extra reach was handy, he tended to agree.
I tried out an 8' 4wt Orvis Superfine Touch -- one of a relatively new line of Orvis rods designed to fish at what I'd suggest were "sensible" trout ranges, but the industry would probably insist was "close-in" fishing.
I'd fished this same fly rod a week ago on opening day, but in the strong wind and on the much-bigger Upper Sacramento, it didn't make much of an impression. I was under-gunned.
Today was better. Much better, even despite a sometimes stiff wind (there's a lesson here for those of us who use tools for things other than intended).
I need to fish it a couple more times before I review it, and I'm far from ready to pronounce it "perfect" -- but Wayne and I both agree it's clearly an interesting modern interpretation of the good old all-around Small Stream Fly Rod.
Originally, I planned to hold a Fly Rod Death Match between it and the original (old school) Scott G-series 8' 4wt you'll have to pry from Ian Rutter's cold dead hands.
Sadly, with that trip postponed, the more bloodthirsty among the Underground's fly rod enthusiasts will have to wait.
See you (feeling better after my Quality Small Stream Experience) during the week, Tom Chandler.