Since Joe and Dave were heading back up to the UFZ, Dad and I went back to the 2A Bridge area. Man it was cold!! I could see icicles on the branches of shrub brush that were near the river. The wind was blowing straight upstream which made casting a little more difficult on the north side of the river.
I started at the abutment on the north side and Dad headed up to the tailout of the Compactor Hole. Did I mention it was cold? I began fishing down through the run and there were two guys on the other side that were staying in the room next to us. I was keeping an eye on them and they were keeping an eye on me. It was like we were all hoping for one of us to hook something just to pick our spirits up a little.
I slowly worked my way downstream covering the water the best I could with sloppy, off shoulder casts, that the wind would grab and send flying upstream. Mending was a bit of a chore to straighten the line out, but the wind helped, sometimes too much. My guides were icing up a little so I would crack it off or dip the tip of the rod into the water to clean them out.
I was just above the abutment during one of the casts. I mended the line and let it swing all the way to shore and the fly was dangling below me. I was kind of in a trance because there was a small flock of male and female Cardinals that would come a few feet away from me and land on the vines attached to the old abutment. They were chirping away and I was trying to mimic them with short, quick whistles. One of the females came a little closer and it was like we were having a little conversation. The other Cardinals seemed rather relaxed as well and I forgot about the cold.
The line was still dangling below me and I had on a tube fly crayfish which must have been bobbing sided to side in the current. The Cardinals spooked and flew to the abutment over on the South side. I watched fly across the river and bump, bump……..whoa!! That’s a take!! Dropped the loop and set the hook and a small 15” Brownie came up to the surface. I brought him into shore as quick as I could, popped the hook out and set him free.
After that I kept working downstream and as I got below the abutment my Dad showed up and wasn’t sure where to go next. I told him to go below 2A Bridge and fish where I hooked that steely the other day. He said, “I thought you were going to head down there and fish?” I said, “I was, but I want to finish this run. Go down there and fish, there is one waiting there for you.” He smiled and made his way down below the bridge.
I kept fishing the run and watched my Dad as he waded into the water and began to fish. Maybe 10 minutes had passed and I was just finishing up the run when I look downstream and see my Dad hooked up to something. I was hoping it was a steelhead so I reeled in, got to shore, and literally ran across the parking area and crossed the road to get over to him. I was a little winded, but definitely a lot warmer and he landed a nice Brownie right as I arrived.
I whipped out my camera, wiped off the foggy lense, and took a few quick pics of the biggest brownie he ever landed. Not huge for Salmon River standards, but alot bigger than anything we fish for at home. I gave him my towel to dry off his hands and asked him what fly it took. He smiled and said, “The Swarn-a-Bugger!!” He also said it wasn’t a hard take, the line just got heavy and came tight in the slack water below the abutment.
He kept fishing below 2A Bridge and I decided to cross the bridge and fish above the abutment on the South side of the river. I hiked to where I wanted to start, which was the bottom tip of the island and began to strip out some line. I decided to change flies and put on a Brown Mahogan. I thought it might track a little deeper in the flow and I could slow it down a tad as well.
I began working my way downstream when I had a comfortable amount of line out. As I worked towards the abutment in the river, I started to angle towards shore so as not to spook anything in the soft water. The fly was swinging a little slow so I had to lead the line with my rod tip to keep it swinging at a nice even speed. My fly was about 6ft above the abutment and swinging towards shore when I felt a pull, but I set the hook instead of dropping the loop. DOH!! No fish on the other end.
I made a few more swings through the same area just in case the same fish came back or maybe another would move for it, but it didn’t happen. I kept working downstream and started making longer casts when I passed the downstream edge of the abutment. It was tough to get a nice swing since there was so much line beyond the abutment and the seam below it would put a wicked “S” curve in the line. To overcome this the cast had to be on more of a downstream angle and I took a few steps forward to better my position.
The fly was swinging much better and I could control it easier as well. I kept telling myself to drop the loop, drop the loop, drop the loop, etc….. I took a few more casts downstream to cover the rest of the tailout on the next to last cast, the line just stopped solid. The loop was dropped and I set the hook after the line came tight. Nothing happened at first, then I felt a big weight throb twice as it slowly started moving towards the center of the river and the hook came free. Hmm, I wonder what the heck that was?
I made a few more casts then went below the 2A Bridge to make a few casts before we went back to the room for an early lunch. I pulled out some line and made a few casts, then I was low holed so I reeled in and headed across the bridge to the parking lot.
When lunch was over Dad and I went back to Pineville to try our luck again since the past few days either he or I hooked a fish the last two times we were there. We fished hard all afternoon and went through the run a couple of times. We changed flies, tried slowing the fly, speeding it up, casting across stream, casting upstream, but it wasn’t to be.
We decided to head in a little early since it was pretty raw and we were both tired from trying to keep warm all day. Boy the Balvenie Scotch and cheese tasted good when we got back.
When Joe and Dave got back to the room they said it was a slow day for them as well and didn’t see many hookups in the LFZ. Hopefully this was the slow day of the week.