New Water in an Old Place

I started out under the Davis bridge far too early in the afternoon.  It’s a short run, a quick fish, a place to spend some time while the shade settles on the better water upstream.  I walked down in shorts and wading boots through an acre of dried thistles, blackberries and hundred degree heat – just the thing to toughen up the skin on the lower legs.

It’s still fishing the same as it was last year, but, save for the shadow of the bridge, the orientation of the river here keeps it too exposed, unlike December when this place never sees the sun all day.  But it was a chance to try a different rod with a sinktip.  This rod had given me some frustration in an earlier outing in the wind, so I wanted to give it a chance under better conditions.  I was in the groove with it now and found I could fish the entire river with the double spey and a much slower timing than the rod I left back up in the truck.  The wind was nearly non-existent and the smoke was creeping in over the ridges from seemingly all directions.  I did a pass through and decided to head up the road to the trail and walk into a favorite spot.  Upon arrival, a car was parked there, and although there is plenty of water to access from the trail, I decided to head back downstream to explore some new water that I had heard promising things about.  I like giving people space and only hope they can do it for me from time to time.

Since it was getting on in the evening, I knew I would be “committing” to this place since it was a short walk downstream and the upstream run was already occupied – it’s about that time of year when folks from far and wide start arriving – plus, it’s Friday – I was mentally prepared for this by having a pocketful of options to fish should one or the other be occupied.  I didn’t feel like having company tonite.  The water in question is at the end of a long pool/glide the size of a couple of soccer fields.  The water scoots along painfully slow until it spills over through a maze of small riffles and bedrock outcrops.  This spot changes from year to year even in a low water year like we just had.  Right before spilling over the riffle, the water picks up speed and has the potential for good holding water.

The thing about fishing new water is the unknown quantity that lies before you.  In familiar runs, the best lies are usually known and focused on at just the right time.  These are the places fished with a certain efficiency.  If the familiar place doesn’t yield fish, we are left to assume that the river is “slow.”  Sometimes fishing new water requires an I-don’t-care mood.  If I can find myself in this mood then I can usually settle down and be more methodical about the fishing rather than wasting myself with thoughts of “I should’ve gone elsewhere.”

I probably started too high on the tailout.  By the time I got into the faster, fishier looking water, it was getting dark.  A few bright salmon rolled in the moving water – suggesting that it did indeed hold fish.  The water was a much different layout than I’d seen before.  I couldn’t really find what I would call a sweet spot, but it looked good, nonetheless.  After a solid grab, I switched over to the skating fly – again, in the “I-don’t-care” mood and just wanting to see what was down here at the bottom of all this flat water.  Nothing on the skater – but the fixation with watching that fly skid across the water’s surface knowing that at any time all hell could break loose underneath is entertainment in itself.  Nearly time to go and I switched back over to a spider and landed a sassy half-pounder.  By the time I got to the bottom, an almost full moon was peeking over the trees.

I don’t feel like I had a chance to really fish the run – it deserves another trip and provides an excellent late evening backup to the oft-fished run above.  I shall return.

Notes on the food prepared for this trip:  Since food is such an integral part of this season, I should mention that prior to leaving I was able to use some of the potent brandywine tomatoes mixed with a little sliced garlic, pepper and tossed with olive oil, sea salt and basil.  There is a fellow at the Saturday market that has, hands-down the best tomatoes – they are small but full of a sweet tangy flavor that makes even those of us who are not tomato disciples take notice. Taken to the river on ice and eaten chilled in only a small amount it is the perfect compliment to a warm September afternoon.

Diced tomatoes and a wee bit of sliced garlic tossed with olive oil, basil leaves, pepper and sea salt provides the perfect little pick-me-up on the river.
Diced tomatoes and a wee bit of sliced garlic tossed with olive oil, basil leaves, pepper and sea salt provides the perfect little pick-me-up on the river.
Looking upstream from the tailout - a smokey sky and lots of wide open flat water.  I will prbably return here to better learn the water that lies behind where I'm standing.
Looking upstream from the tailout - a smoky sky and lots of wide open flat water. I will probably return here to better learn the water that lies behind where I stand.

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