I was right that Kitty would want to go back. The weather was looking fantastic (a rain bump was coming for the weekend), and I knew there were fish around, so when Kitty wanted to go back to Marc’s, I happily obliged. I quickly put together our game plan. My first choice was to take Kitty back to the river I had hit on my way up. She has never landed a fish there, despite hookups every time I’ve taken her (I believe she’s been to that particular system 4 or 5 times now). The conditions would be perfect the first day of the weekend before the rains hit that late afternoon (at which point the canyon can get flashy and dangerous). The second day would be back to the river where we had found a bunch of fish the last day of my previous trip, since it would be good with a little bit more water.
Saturday morning we headed out again early. We finally get to the top of the canyon in the late morning after a long drive, and start the familiar walk in. On the way in, we ended up finding two elk sheds – one in very good condition. We don’t find many sheds, so it was a cool way to start the day, and was hopefully a sign that success was on our side. As always, we get to the first pool and get skunked there again. I still have no idea why they don’t sit here, and it really bothers me since it’s one of the best looking runs in the system. Today the water is even more low and clear, and you can see everything in the run – no steelhead present. The game plan after this spot is to fish absolutely everything, much like I had the day previous. We would just run and gun, me with a bead and Kitty with a worm. Two casts each through all the good seams, runs and pockets, and move on fast to get everything done.
I show Kitty where I had gotten my buck last trip on our way past, and it was no surprise that it was lacking fish this time. I’m not expecting to see one there again any time soon based on my past experiences here – I had gotten exceptionally lucky last trip with moving fish. We fish through the next three runs and 2 km of pocket water with nothing to show – but the best producing run in the stretch is up next. We arrive, and I get Kitty to go through first with the pink worm. Five or six casts of nothing worries me a bit, but there’s a very particular drift you need to get (while fishing really deep), and Kitty hasn’t tried it yet (in all honesty, the back drift doesn’t look great today since the water is still a bit high and fast for this spot). I tell her to go two feet deeper and point the drift out. She gets the good drift right away, and sure enough her float hammers down. She gets a solid hook-up, and the fight is on with a really nice buck. These fish always fight exceptionally well, and this one lived up to what I’d expect from the fish here. He tore up the run, actually jumped the cascade at the head of the run, and went far enough up the rapids that we almost needed to chase him up. Just before we started moving in pursuit, he decided to come back down, and screamed out the bottom of the run into the pockets below. At this point I started to worry Kitty would lose him with all the trees and large boulders below us. We gave chase, and to my relief, I eventually got down below Kitty and scooped him with the net out of a pocket, before he could take another run downriver towards a log that surely wouldn’t have ended well. Kitty is elated – she has finally landed a fish here after many previous encounters, and she definitely deserved this one after that battle.
After we released Kitty’s fish, we decide to go back up to the hole and see if another one is in there. Right after we get there, I manage to hook up and lose a beautiful 12 pound doe on a bead on the in tight cast – I guess we had moved them around out of the deep back gut with Kitty’s fish tearing up the run. Around 5 minutes later, as I peer into the run, I can see a large pink worm that looks strangely like ours. Kitty hasn’t broken off in here today, so I’m slightly confused upon my initial sighting of it. After a few minutes of staring at it, I finally get a good window, and can see that it’s the large fish that had broken me off 4 km downriver a few days previous! We tried to get him for a while, but he wasn’t interested in going through battle again. In total we could see 3 fish in the run, but there weren’t any other takers. 2/4 on hookups on fish present isn’t that bad, and realistically I’ve hooked one of the other ones in there, just not today. We decide to move on, hoping that a couple more have moved in since my last day here.
The school of fish in the run that seemingly never fails ended up being our only action for the day, but it was more than good enough for me. I was happy to see Kitty finally land a fish here. It was also cool to see that fish I had broken off, since it gave me an idea how how quickly they move through the system (something I haven’t really observed in past years). Another interesting observation was that in 3 short days, that buck I had lost down low in the system went from being bright silver to quite coloured. It was possibly due to the stress of being hooked and still having gear in his face, but it also shows just how fast a large buck can colour up, especially in the spring time. One last positive on the day was the confirmation of where fish usually sit, since last trip threw a bit of a wrench in it. It’s unfortunate there isn’t access directly into that one run, as it’s pretty much the closest thing to a guarantee.
After arriving at Marc’s house late night, we discuss plans for the next day. We decide that we should get to the spot early, since it’s the weekend, and the rains and subsequent water bump will probably draw some people out. We arrive at the river early (just after first light), and find that there is already a truck there with two people walking down to the starting run. Everywhere upriver has been seriously lacking fish, so we mull over what we should do next. After a little bit of conversation, we decide to go back to the river we had briefly checked out last trip. This entire weekend trip, and the order we’re doing things is starting to feel a lot like deja vu. It’s been incredibly busy, and I wasn’t overly pleased about the condition of the fish that we got last drive out, so we hadn’t planned on going there. It was the next best option though, so off we went, with the hopes that we could come back to this one later in the afternoon.
As we start the fairly long drive there, the weather starts to change. Before I could do much, we had gone from light rain into a heavy snow storm. The road was terrible, and soon we were in a good 3 to 4 inches of snow, even before I had hit the next turn around. I have fairly good tires on my car, but it’s a rather hilly drive and we’re already starting to slide around at this point. I nearly turn around, but Kitty and Marc push me to keep going. I do have chains in the trunk, so I push on, and eventually we make it to the river. We get to the first spot, and to my relief, there isn’t a car in the starting spot this time around. As we walk in, we make note of the lack of footprints as well. It definitely rained hard this morning, but it seems as though this run has been left vacant this morning. We get to the head and fish through the top 50 feet where the fish always seem to be. After a good 10 minutes of flogging, we were feeling as if the run was empty. Kitty decides to fish through the whole thing quickly with a spoon before we leave. For whatever reason, I’ve lost a little bit of confidence in metal this year and haven’t been using it as much, but thankfully Kitty hasn’t. She gets half way through the run and hits into a feisty little chrome buck. River number five on the year for Kitty.
We decide to poke around a few more runs while we are here. We head upriver to the worm hole and fish it for quite a while with no success. We decide to do 4 more runs upriver before calling it a day and heading back towards home. The next two runs don’t produce any float downs or otherwise, but the third run is always a good bet in this stretch. We don’t normally come here much as it’s a bit of a walk up, but most days it’s good for at least one fish. We get to the head, and all 3 of us fish it with float gear really well. Once again, Kitty busts out the spoon as we are about to leave and her second cast she gets a hard grab. We watch her fish another 10 or so casts. We still consider leaving, but there is no doubt that what she just had was a fish. I can’t help myself knowing a fish is there, and put my rod together again and fish for another 5 minutes. Just before I’m about to pack up again, I actually manage to hit a nice little doe.
We decide to fish it for a little bit longer after I got that doe. It seemed Kitty’s spoon had actually stirred them up a bit and gotten them into a bitey mood (keep in mind that we had pin fished it for 10 minutes in the same drifts without anything before the spoon went in with beads, worms and jigs). Sure enough, Marc changes up to the largest worm he has (to try and trigger an aggressive strike, much like what a spoon would trigger) and it hits a fish on the second cast. Marc ends up landing the matching buck to my doe – his is in much better condition though.
After those fish, I decide to call it quits. It’s raining hard at the river now, and I’m really worried about getting out of here since it’s surely snow on the mountain pass. It’s been over 2 hours at this point, and I’m really concerned that the 3 inches on the road is going to be 6 or more with it coming down this hard. We head back, and luckily for us, the snow hadn’t picked up that much (it appears as though we were coming through during the worst of the squall). It had definitely accumulated a bit more, and the drive was still less than ideal, but we managed to stay on the road and moving the entire time.
We decide to head back to Marc’s place first before going back to the other river. We were pretty wet and hungry, and the second river will be on the way back home, so now was a good time to go and pack our stuff up into the car. After throwing on a change of dry clothes and grabbing some grub, we throw all the stuff in the car and head to the next system. We arrive to find it void of people, and head down for the run that we wanted to fish.
We get to the run, and conditions aren’t anything like they were the last day I was here. It’s higher, dirtier, and there’s no sun on the water, so viewing conditions are much more difficult. Eventually though, I determine that there are at least 7 fish in the run that I can see. We flogged these fish with absolutely everything. Beads, jigs, colorados, pink worms, white worms, UV worms. Not a single float down. Marc and I eventually decide to just flog a bead hoping to hit one in the face eventually. After 20 minutes or so, Kitty finally convinces us to let her try a spoon after she grew bored of watching her float not do anything over and over. As I had said earlier, I’ve lost a lot of confidence in spoons this season oddly, and with the conditions today, I feel like they’ll likely just spook all the fish in the run. It wasn’t like they were biting anyway, so we agreed to let her throw it in. Her very first cast she misses a fish, followed by a fish chasing her spoon into shallow water the second cast. Her third cast produces her first ever fish out of this system. Another brand new one for Kitty, bringing her total for new rivers on the year to three, and her total river count to six on the year.
Over the next hour, Kitty put on an absolute clinic. It was both awesome, yet extremely frustrating to watch. No matter what Marc and I did, we couldn’t get these fish to bite anything under a float, yet Kitty was hooking fish every 5 minutes or less. All of a sudden she was at 7 solid hookups/fights to our 0, and had missed/briefly rolled another 5 or 6 fish. It was obvious there were more than the 7 fish that I could see in this run.
All of a sudden, like a switch, the fish turned off of Kitty’s spoon, but switched over to float gear. Within short order, Marc had his limit of fish as well on beads. At this point, the rain really started to pick up badly, and I once again had hockey to get to. We had already tagged 4 fish (more than enough for Marc to deal with), and with the good number of hookups on the day, we had definitely had our fill. I would be happy to get home a couple hours earlier than planned to relax. We thank Marc for letting us stay at his house again for the weekend, give each other a bunch of high fives for an awesome day (pre-covid, seems like forever ago), and started our long drive home. This was a fantastic mid season treat after the somewhat slow start to the year.