Perhaps it's my inner-outdoorsman speaking when I say that fall is my favorite time of year. The fishing is great, hunting is in full swing, and life is generally good. These days, when I load the Tundra for another outing somewhere, it's an impressive pile of gear ranging from cold weather outerwear to T shirts, and may include fly rods, spinning rods, shotguns, and rifles. There’s probably lots of Gore-Tex and camo alongside tackle packs and landing nets.
This last weekend was a classic example. I’m preparing for an upcoming deer hunt and needed to get some real-world shooting practice in. So, Dash Lady and I hit the road to visit a buddy up near Kremmling. Since it is fall and my buddy just happens to live on the Blue River, a waterway chock full of brown trout in full pre-spawn, I naturally included some tackle alongside my trusty ‘ol deer rifle. Shoulda maybe thought a little harder about specifically which tackle to bring…
On Dash Lady’s favorite run up “the hill” (aka, I-70 to the Eisenhower tunnel) it was snowing. Headed down to Silverthorne it was really snowing. At Green Mountain reservoir, the salmon snaggers were braving the heavy skies, but it was not actually snowing. By the time I got to my buddy’s place, the skies had cleared some and it was perfect for fishing. We hit the river to catch up, let his young son burn off some steam on the soggy riverbank, and maybe pester a trout or two.
The trout behaved predictably, which is to say very aggressively. It’s always to fun for me to fish with no agenda and this was certainly that. An old friend and his son, some easy fishing, and perfect fall weather to set the scene….what could be finer? It’s funny that, though we caught several browns, it’s one that I didn’t catch that will haunt me…
The HD Trout I was working blew out (meaning the diving lip couldn’t take the current load so the lure spun to the surface…common with small lures in fast current) and was erupted on as it broke the surface. It was a really big brown - like 2 feet plus - and he missed. I tossed it back, ripped through the same area and he smacked it again, only this time I missed. Two more passes through resulted in aggressive visual attacks but no hook-ups; clearly this large fish was defending this spot.
Had I been carrying other tackle, I could show you a picture of him because I guarantee he would have fully committed to a much larger “threat”, say, a #18 floating Rapala or a large Magic Swimmer. The little HD was an annoyance for sure, but not really a threat to his space. I didn’t have aspirations of a hardcore fishing trip, so I grabbed only a small rod and conservative lure, and I paid for it in a lost opportunity to hold a big, dripping brown. Doh!
Note to self: next time you “grab some tackle”, make sure to practice what you preach….namely big baits for big, aggressive, pre-spawn browns!
Another thing I always preach is that casting accuracy and efficiency catches more fish than just about any other aspect of angling. I’ve been casting my entire life yet I still actively practice. Well, that goes for rifles and hunting, too. I’ve shot the same caliber and load for more than 20 years, yet confidence still comes from hearing that steel gong ring over and over at various ranges out to 500 yards while shooting from various positions with shooting sticks, a standing mono-pod, and leaning on a post as though it were a tree trunk. Doing so in a breeze with bulky clothes on and in damp weather is that much better. I wouldn’t shoot 500 yards at big game, but it’s great practice and I now know unequivocally that a deer at 300 is in big trouble.
So, I don’t really know where I was going was all this. In the outdoors, preparation is paramount to success, practice makes perfect, and your soul soars when you do what you love. I guess I just thought I’d share, and hope that others are taking advantage of the season, too!