fly fishing small streams

Small Stream Fly Fishing As Time Machine

Posted by Tom Chandler 8/13/2012

On Friday, the L&&T packed up the two munchskins and headed off to Healdsburg for the weekend, leaving the Trout Underground's Editorial Staff wholly at loose ends.

Older Bro Hiding from trout, but not the cellphone camera.

This is the first time I've found myself alone since I became the dad of a pair of typhoons disguised as innocent children, which means I immediately embarked on an orgy...

Of sleep.

(The parents out there are nodding.)

Still, when you're sleeping odd hours and trying to catch a glimpse of actual sport amid NBC's parade of Olympic tearjerkers, it's too easy to become a shut-in.

So Saturday I went to the shooting range and fired everything I had (after only 18 months and $1100, the Browning Superposed 20-gage shotgun came back from Browning).

On Sunday, Older Bro made an appearance, eager to drop a float tube in a backcountry lake.

Which didn't quite happen.

The Back Story

This weekend, sitting any length of time means selected body parts no longer move (picture an unpainted steel robot facing an accelerated rusting process), and a couple hours in a float tube seemed like a choice only Torquemada would approve of.

Instead, we visited a small stream and caught pretty little trout.

The biggest went an astonishing 10"-11" and the average was in the 8" range. Like so many other local small streams, two years of excellent snowpack have grown a lot of slightly-bigger-than-normal trout, and only a fool (or a real headhunter) ignores that.

Fishing with Older Bro feels like a custom-fit process; he only picked up the sport a couple years ago, but he's been a backpacker and backcountry guy from the time he was a teenager.

Life is tough in tiny backcountry streams or high mountain lakes, a fact you don't really understand until you've spent some time in either.

He's spent a lot of time in both, and the result is someone who is viscerally aware of the struggle, so he doesn't burden his fly fishing with much in the way of expectation.

Instead of an end result, he considers the fish a nice bonus.

It's a good attitude to hold when your big fish of the day might not be any longer than your fly rod grip.

Sadly, even extremely manly outdoorsmen like ourselves aren't immune to 99 degree temperatures, so after baking at the bottom of a gorge until we were approaching medium rare, we hiked up to the ridge and beat feet for someplace a little cooler.

Even despite the heat, fly fishing once again functioned like a time machine; with the hike in and the difficulty getting around the stream, it felt like we were just hitting our groove when Older Bro pointed out we'd been at it for a lot of hours.

Older Bro, hiding You usually have to work for your small stream trout.

And in one of those moments that puts the sword to the "you can catch those small trout on anything," aphorism, we caught noticeably more (and bigger) trout after noticing the Yellow Sallies (small yellow stoneflies) running around on our legs.

For the simple act of tying on a yellow fly and fooling a few more trout, I congratulated myself like I'd won a Pulitzer, proving once again that I probably shouldn't be trusted with a fishing report (or a blog). In addition, neither one of us ended up with a working camera, so today's pictures come courtesy my smartphone, which doesn't peg the quality meter.

Sorry.

The Gear Stuff

Older Bro fished an 8.5' 3wt Orvis Superfine Touch, an astonishingly good small-to-medium-stream fly rod. It's not a slow taper, but it loads at reasonable small stream ranges.

Older Bro loves it.

Because a little contrast is a useful thing, I fished a Diamondglass 7' 3wt fiberglass rod -- one of the slower, softer fly rods I've ever used.

It's tremendous fun on a small stream, but generates sensations remarkably like frustration whenever the wind comes up, which means all but the masochists should place it in the toy category. Short fly rods are big fun, but even on a small stream like this I like a little extra length; at the very least it's a lot easier to manuever flies (and fish) around all the rocks.

See you standing up on the river, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

15 comments
I too know the joy of the small stream. I have more than one near my house with the monster 10 inch brown and bow as my sporting friend. Though my goal is always to fool a fish or two my serenity is captured by being in the beauty of granite and the sounds of the river. I`m lucky enough to have large bows a couple hours away and have had great fun with my 5 wt. but it will never replace the streams ... more near my home. Loving life in colorado
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Glad to know it is not just me. I too have a 7' 3 wt Diamondglass (original black blank) and have a similar opinion. Great fun on sunfish ponds on calm days or on small, protected trout streams, but any amount of wind, it can be extremely frustrating.
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There is nothing better than a nice small stream fishing session. Stalking small fish in a small river is just plain fun!
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Ditto Chris Raine. Also, what could possibly be more productive than raising two children to be mature,positive, responsible, contributing members of society, rather than selfish, self-centered non-contributing fucks (like me)?
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Those yellow stonefly hatches are amazing. We don't get those in the rivers here. I was up in Yellowstone a few weeks ago and stopped to ogle a steaming, oozing mud pit near the Yellowstone River. When I returned to the car it was covered with yellow stones. Unfortunately I had no time to visit the river. Glad you did well.
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Pete McD: if I’m not woken up in the middle of the night, I wake up anyway wondering what the f##k is wrong. Clearly, you're a better parent than I am. I'm perfectly capable of sleeping all the way through to the morning, though I'm rarely given the chance.
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Well, the selfish kind. Duh.
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It's absolutely amazing to me that you and many of your readers feel that after children, your life goes on as before. What kind of selfish bastards are you?
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Until I had kids I never appreciated the significance of uninterrupted sleep. I am now at the point where if I'm not woken up in the middle of the night, I wake up anyway wondering what the f##k is wrong.
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You'll get there again. It just make take a while. Like, ummm, college years. But then you'd probably rather not think about that right now. Revel in the chaos when they get back!
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On this stream, you're basically moving from plunge pool to plunge pool. My best fish came when the fly drifted out of sight behind a rock, with Older Bro yelling "he ate it" a couple of times before I got the message and lifted the rod. Another Pulitzer moment.
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It's always something these days. Family comes home today, and by this morning I'd recovered enough -- and got so much done before 9 am -- that I had a brief glimpse of the productive, pre-kid life...
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Thats a lovely pool!!!!!!
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Nice to hear you got out. I haven't chased the fair trout in forever, an oversight I hope to fix later this week, and your post primes the pump quite nicely. I appreciate it.
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Great blog...glad I found it. You can find me at http://austinanglersjournal.blogspot.com/. I look forward to hearing about more fun adventures.
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