Saturday, September 15, 2007

2007 Secret Spring Creek Report

For our 11 year wedding anniversary, the missus and I hired our favorite fishing guide, Charlie. He took us out to a spring creek somewhere in Eastern Washington. Here is a pictorial account of the day.

The spring creek was like a moonscape. Rolling hills, covered by bright yellow straw and interrupted by small dark grey crags. The creek was wearing collar of verdant grass. Charlie made US wear shin guards to ward against rattlesnakes (though none were seen). As we walked on a cliff by the creek we looked down to see giant fish zooming around in pool! In almost all the big pools there were big fish. Everywhere else, and I do mean everywhere else, there were millions of little juvenile fingerlings. They were often so thick that the water itself looked like it was a living, swirling carpet.

We marched through the grass, noticing dozens and dozens straw-colored praying mantises. We discussed why there are no preying mantis patterns – probably too hard to cast such a thing. Amy wanted to take home one of the bleached cow skulls but we didn't.

The fishing was Â… intense, demanding and rewarding. We'd hike for 10 to 40 minutes at time in between "pods" of fish. Amy and I took turns hitting the pods first until one of us hooked a fish, which was like 100% of the time.

We'd always start at the back of the pool, crouching in the grass and casting to the fish at the tail end of the pod. It would take only one or two casts, bouncing a big hopper off the green wall of grass on the other side of the creek. The bug would drop in the water and BAM the silence was broken by fish launching out of the water to eat it.

Mistakes were punished – bad casts caused the fish to spook and race up the river or hide in the rocks. Charlie said our casts were almost TOO good since half the time we weren't ready for the fish, not expecting to catch something on the first, tentative cast. I lost two good fish that way myself – Charlie said one of them looked to be 23". D'oh!

The fish of the day came at the very end. Charlie and Amy were working their way up a channel, casting to the opposite side of the creek. Amy cast over to some rocks that looked yummy. Charlie told her to lift and cast to the next spot but Amy let the fly sit for a second longer. Suddenly, a big wild brown trout rose from the rocks and inhaled her hopper. She then worked the big brown for about 10 full minutes until Charlie could get to it and remove the hook. He lifted her fish for the picture, which I took with the zoom in too close. Boy did Amy let me have it later when she saw that it was the only picture I took! It wasn't my fault, the camera was weirding out! I protested.

At the end of the day, Charlie professed that we were pretty lucky to have run into so many fish and that they were so cooperative; we put the hurt on fish in almost every pool we visited and we only used one fly – a hopper.

This is my favorite picture -- I like the way the angles all come together just behind where Amy is standing.

The day was a gift to ourselves for 11-year wedding anniversary (15 years together) and it was money well spent. We don't normally hike 5 miles to catch fish but now we're thinking its worth it. Props to our guide for showing us a time that we never, ever would have experienced without his professional help.