I did not wake up early enough. With four cars in the parking lot when I arrived, that was clear. Fifteen minutes earlier than Sunday meant nothing today. With one path to walk and limited water, I kept going through the small lot to my backup location. Two cars were in this spot, but with a longer trail and more water to cover, I’d take a walk. My instincts were rewarded as I noticed one angler was fishing within eyesight of the cars. 

The morning haze was quickly burning off, and by 8:30 am the day promised to be gross and sticky. Until the day reached the point of oppressive humidity (or humanity if tubers descended on me), I would fish. Water conditions were clear and low, increasing the challenge for the day. Finding a combination of a presentation and a desirable fly to catch a trout is like solving a puzzle. On challenging days, it can be a puzzle where you have no idea of the image or the numbers or types of pieces to use. The angler has preparation, experience, imagination, hope and luck available to solve the puzzle. There is no model to emulate but when I lack imagination, I often use whatever approach I most recently used that caught fish.  

Water that previously produced fish on terrestrials and dry dropper was stingy this week.

The last two weeks’ blogs described my use of terrestrials and dry dropper rigs to catch trout in summer conditions and when the stream feels like it has shut off. I followed the same pattern of testing these two methods during my morning of fishing. Preparation and experience were pulled from the quiver, with no success, only one splashy refusal in two hours of angling.  

Thankfully my imagination came to life. The previous evening, I reorganized several fly boxes, including my streamers. In one box, I thought it made sense to store all my jig streamers by size and color in one box. In the process, I was reminded of several smaller jig fry streamers I had tied after reading George Daniel’s Fly Fishing Evolution book. The fly stayed on my mind, so I gave it a try.  

Ahead of me on the river were two deep, turbulent riffle features separated by a short, deep, pool. My strategy became to drop the heavy fly into the white rolling water, hoping hungry trout were holding in the highly oxygenated water. As the fly tumbled over the rapids into the deeper water, I imagined it simulating a small baitfish caught in the fast currents, swept over the boulders into the deeper waters. 

Quite possibly the awaiting trout thought this as well because immediately after the streamer hit the water, the fly was yanked downward. I pulled the line and set the hook. After a quick but strong fight, I landed a nice brown. Low and clear water doesn’t scream streamer fishing to me. In this moment, I was grateful I tried something new. I made several more drifts through the riffle with no takers. Moving upstream to the next steep drop, I steadied my feet and positioned myself to make a good cast and hopefully, fight another fish. 

An aggressive brown trout fooled by the Jig Fry streamer

My first cast was accurate and allowed the streamer to sink into the deep, heavy water quickly. The result was identical. The trout hit the fly with force beyond its size. For a moment I believed I had lost the fish in the roots of a fallen tree, but I somehow directed the fish into the calmer water of the pool, missing any tangles with the gnarly roots. When things go as you imagined, it is tremendously satisfying! 

With long stretches of flat water ahead of me, sweat dripping off my nose and the sound of multiple dogs playing in the water nearby, I called it a day. Every trip to the river teaches me something new. The practice of organizing my fly boxes helped me to imagine scenarios to use each fly that otherwise remains buried and unused. Limiting myself to repeating past experiences or things read in books or watched on video prevents exploration and finding new perspectives. My experiences with streamers focused on high, off-color water and during the fall season. A whim and a lingering thought about a fly combined to help me find a puzzle piece without knowing what I was missing. 

Keep mending…    

One Reply to “With Imagination I May Get There a Little Sooner”

  1. Hi Scott!
    Thing I love about story telling is the picture I make up in MY mind of the scenario you’re painting through your words. I love listening to stories, it drives my imagination.
    Funny how things work out sometimes, a time consuming chore reorganizing your fly boxes, ended with you exploring with a new fly and produced a few fish and some great memories. Way to keep the hope alive. 👍🏻
    Thanks so sharing.

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