We all started at the 2A Bridge area. Dad and I decided to head up to the Upper Compactor (north side) so I could show him some more good water to swing. Joe and Dave stayed down around the bridge.
Dad started off close to shore while I waded out on a rock reef so we could essentially cover a large swath of water without being too close to each other. As he worked his way downstream with a little prodding from me, I slid closer to shore and fished the water he just went through. We each played around with a few different flies and covered some of the water twice, but no takers.
Dad wanted to work the water a third time so I told him I was heading downstream to fish the tailout of the Compactor hole. Dave and Joe fished south side the Compactor while we were upstream, but they didn’t have any luck. I tied on a different fly which was one I used last year and this year, but still hadn’t hooked anything with it. I figured why not, just go for it. It was a size one Spey fly with red GP crest for a tail, rear body of orange floss, front body of black dubbing, black spey hackle with a purple throat, and strips of black goose for the Spey/Dee wings.
The sun was bright, felt great, and the fly looked good while swimming it at my feet. Worked some line out until I felt comfortable and started the spey dance…step, cast, swing, repeat. Got below a bunch of annoying tree branches and stripped out line to cover a little more water since the swing was smooth and at a nice speed. There was good tension in the line too. Made a few more casts and at the end of one of the swings, just before the straight down dangle, I felt a bump. I was able to overcome the urge to strike and let the loop go since I was muttering it to myself the entire time. The loop went out, line came tight and I lifted the rod towards my shore to set the hook. The fish came up and rolled a few times but I couldn’t tell if it was a brownie or a steelie so I kept a nice deep bend in the rod.
It didn’t make any runs and just shook its head as it sulked so I figured it was a brownie. Tired it out pretty quickly and saw it was a nice fat bellied female brown and the hook was right in the corner of the jaw. Just as I was about to land her, my Dad showed up and I asked him if he had a camera because this was the biggest brown I had ever landed (not huge for SR standards though). He said, “No.” I then picked her up out of the water to get a feel for her weight and size and noticed she was dropping eggs so I quickly popped out the barbless hook, revived her and let her go back to where she came from. Judging from my rod handle she was about 26” long and felt like a fat, egg laiden 7-8 lbs. Sweet!! That made my day and if anything else happened, it would be icing on the cake.
Dad and I were a little chilled so we decided walk downstream and fish the run at the old abutment above 2A Bridge, and then we could head in for lunch. I started at the fast water and Dad started just below me. He worked his way down through and hopped out just below the abutment on the north side to head back to the truck. I followed him and made a few more casts before heading to the truck.
When I started at the top of the run I had put on a Balmoral Dee fly with Argus wings to try a classic Dee fly for a change of pace. I was right at the upstream side of the old abutment and the fly was just starting to dangle when I felt a harder take. Let the loop go, set the hook and up came a small steelhead flying through the air. She pulled on the line pretty good but wasn’t big enough to take any drag. After a short battle she came to shore and I released all 18”-20” of her. It was pretty neat to get steelhead on a fly that was tied new from an 80+ year old pattern. All it missed was the silk gut eye……maybe next time.
Went back to the room for lunch and got the goodies out so we could all make sandwiches. Dad and I finished our bite to eat, but Joe and Dave never showed up. We figured they must have gotten into some fish so they skipped lunch. We were right!! When we got back to 2A Bridge Joe and Dave were where we left them, and said they hit a bunch of steel a little while after we left for lunch.
After parking, Dad decided to head up to the tailout of the Compactor Hole while I went back to where I was before lunch. Worked down through the run once with no luck and at about the same time I was walking back up, a few other fly fisherman showed up across the river. They fished around the abutment on the south side of the river dead drifting flies. One of the guys hooked up to a brownie rather quickly and was quite excited that he hooked something. His buddy hollered up to him and waded upstream to give a hand landing the fish. He reached behind his back and pulled out a net that was sized for wild brookies. There was a gentleman in a driftboat at the pullout next to me and we just looked at each other and laughed. Maybe half of the brownie fit in the net and it wasn’t even twenty inches long!! I guess the laugh was on me though because each of those guys hooked a few more browns and steelies as I worked down the run. It sure was fun to watch!!
Since I didn’t have any takers above the bridge I decided to head below the bridge and give it a try. Joe and Dave were across from me and hadn’t hooked much since we returned from lunch. That little pod they hit around noon must have slid upriver to the abutment which explains some of the hookups I saw.
I put on a new length of 12lb tippet and decided to try a crayfish tube fly I tied for this trip. Mostly made of hen pheasant feathers, I figured it would be something different the fish probably hadn’t seen. Plus, there is ton of crayfish in the river so they have most likely crossed paths with a few naturals on their migration upriver.
Worked my way into a nice little groove of casting out into the slower water. I had to make a few twitches and mends to keep the fly moving while holding the rod and line above the fast current right in front of me. As the line got about 55 degrees below me, the current near shore would “grab” the line, and it would finish with a nice even swing with barely any belly. Kept stepping down the run working water to get to a spot in the run where two different currents met and formed a nice little underwater funnel.
The first cast to fish this spot layed out nice and straight about 35 degrees downstream. Held the line off the water for a second or two and the current did the rest of the work without the need for any mending. The tension of the line was just right in my fingers and as the crayfish tube was working its magic, it got to the funnel and I felt a nice hard grab. I set the hook and released the line at the same time….whoops. The fish was on and I saw a nice silver side and bright white belly come up and roll, then the line and fly came shooting back towards me……man….that was cool….the crayfish worked. I will be trying that fly again tomorrow for sure.
Dad didn’t get into anything up above and worked the run below the 2A Bridge with no luck. Joe and Dave hooked into a couple brownies, but that was about it for the evening. It was around 4:00 so we all decided to head back to the room for a warm shower before heading out for dinner.