Before continuing with day two of our trip, I must defend myself in light of the "lies" told about me in the previous post. What appeared to be me retiring to the tent, due to activities from the previous evening, while the other members of the group went fishing, was simply a ploy. I had to do something to get them to leave in order to make a hasty dash to the "secret" spot I had picked out from the previous year!!! Ahhhh hell, who am I kidding? Too many PBR's and staying up until the wee hours of the morning will make a man crave sleep something awful.
Well now that we have that cleared up, lets get to the important stuff. On the second morning of our Ozark get away, we once again found ourselves waking to the sound of thunder chickens doing their best to impress the opposite sex (for those of you who don't speak redneck, the term "Thunder Chickens" refers to wild turkeys). After wiping the sleep from our eyes and bundling up before stepping out into the crisp spring air, the morning rituals of stoking the fire, setting up the Coleman cookstove, and brewing coffee began. After a while, the smell of breakfast filled the still air, and the mauling of breakfast burritos commenced. After fueling up, we began the familiar dance of trying to coax our waders onto our tired bodies, worn out from a long night spent sleeping with rocks in our backs (with the exception of Chance who was smart enough to bring a convenient little sleeping pad). Then it was on to the rebuilding of leaders, checking gear, packing water, re-checking gear, discussing what the fish might possibly be interested in eating that morning, re-checking gear yet again, then packing our cheeks with some of the big spit (which is redneck speak for chewing tobacco), it was finally time to fish.
Upon reaching the river, our group began working a stretch of faster water just upstream from the Tan Vat access. Chance was the first to score this morning on a red San Juan worm. It was evident from the monkey like whoops and hollers coming from his direction, that he had hooked into a pretty good fish. I arrived by his side just in time to reach out with the net and scoop up the beauty you see below.
I have never seen a more beautiful brown trout with such vibrant colors before in my life. Truly an awesome specimen.
After that first fish confirmed San Juan worms seemed appetizing, it was game on. In no time Chance had hooked several more fish, with Derek following close behind. The San Juan didn't claim all the glory that morning though, with wooly buggers, caddis emergers, and some sort of wooly bugger/spinner/buzzbait contraption that Derek was throwing at one point claiming their fair share of fish.
As for Chris and myself, our morning was a little different from Chance and D's. I for one couldn't seem to find anything in my fly box that the fish liked. I don't know if the caddis emergers I was throwing were just too different from those thrown by the other members of the group, or if my presentation was key player in my lack of fish catching ability (I would wager that the second part of my previous statement was most likely the culprit). Needless to say, the remainder of the morning continued in a similar pattern, with many fish falling to the skills of Chancie and Little D.
After a while, our party began to disperse before finally rejoining at the head of a beautiful pool where our group (minus myself) had started their day of fishing the previous morning. As we walked up, you could see the fish stacked in the current, hiding behind rocks, and stalking the seams for anything that looked appetizing and was unfortunate enough to drift by. Our group immediately began hammering the hole with a varied arsenal of flies. Chance was the first to hook up, with Chris and Derek following in short order. The few fish that were brought to hand, didn't come easy, but the challenge was well worth it.
"Holy Crap, that fish is (expletive) huge!" were the words muttered by Chance as he caught a glimpse of a giant brown trout chasing minnows in the current. That was all it took, and I could tell Chance was on a mission. Cast after cast was made, but no presentation seemed to fool the big brown into taking. It wasn't until after we watched that fish, and several other nice trout, selectively pluck bugs from the water's surface that we decided to break out the 7X tippet and see if once of us could raise the ghost. Chance threw on a CDC caddis, as I followed suit with an orange stimulator. For the next hour we pounded that little stretch of water relentlessly with Chance bringing some nice browns to hand, and me coaxing a rainbow into biting. Unfortunately though, the big brown was never brought to hand.
I probably would have been fine spending the next 15 years of my life fishing that hole perched atop one of the many boulders scattered throughout the stream. But, the sun had already reached its height in the sky, and was beginning to make its downward journey to the West. With all of our gear waiting to be packed up, and a long drive ahead of us, we called it a day and headed for camp.
In all, the time spent on the water those couple of days is priceless even though, for reasons unknown to myself and Chris, the fish did not want to cooperate as much as we would have liked. Nevertheless, the memories made with great friends on such a magical river, in one of the most beautiful settings I've been in, means so much more than tons of fish brought to hand. In fact, I am kind of grateful for my 3 fish weekend. As the saying goes, if it were easy it would be call "catching" and not "fishing".
So, until next time......remember to use sunscreen & tight lines.