Wet and Wild Streamer Fishing
When we set off to go fishing that morning I thought we would be in for a warm and sunny day of fishing. However, as we got closer to the mountains, I could see that they were engulfed in clouds. By the time we got to the town where we were going to pick up the gate key for the water we were going to fish, it was just starting to rain. As we crossed the river and got closer to our destination, it really started to come down and I was glad that I had packed my rain jacket (always pack your rain jacket!).
The day started a bit slow. The plan was to fish dries on the way up and then streamers on the way back down. I tied on a LARGE Madam X dry fly with a stonefly dropper. Right away I caught a small brownie on top but then the fishing went ice cold. For the next 30 minutes I fished 100 yards of absolutely prime water and saw zero fish. With the rain picking up, Guille and I decided that the fish weren’t looking up as we had hoped and that it was time to switch to streamers.
Not wanting to swap out to a sinking line just yet, and the river high and flowing quickly, I knew I needed to tie on one of the heavier streamers in my box. There was no doubt in my mind which fly this was going to be. It was time to try the Dolly Llama. I fished this fly for the first time in Alaska this past summer and absolutely crushed it with it (coho, rainbows, grayling, dolly varden, etc.). I’ve since started tying it in a lot of trout-oriented colors to see if it would work equally as well in the lower 48. Turns out, it does. What the Dolly Llama lacks in cast-ability, with its large 3/8” cone and large amounts of rabbit fur, it makes up for in pure fish catching-ability. I also decided to add a little extra spice to my rig by tying on a small smolt-style streamer (in a contrasting color) about 18” above the Dolly Llama, which I hoped would give my flies the appearance of a larger fish chasing a smaller fish. Whether the fish fully appreciated my thoughtfulness or not I don’t know...
I started working the far bank, which was a nice combination of root wads, logs, and a deep looking undercut. Instantly the fishing turned on. On one of my first few casts I missed the hookset on a nice rainbow in pocket below a half-submerged root wad. I recast and let the fly dead drift back through the pocket. He ate it again (the fish down here seem to do that a lot). This time I did not miss the hookset. After landing the fish I continued to work the bank with similar results. That is, I rolled a lot of fish, missed most of them, hooked and landed a few. All of them on the trusty Dolly Llama. As it turns out, the Dolly Llama works in Patagonia too.
As we worked our way along the main river we came to a nice spring creek tributary. Guille had been telling me about this spring creek all day and the large trucha marróns (brown trout) that lurked in it. On my first cast I missed the hookset on a girthy brown. Spencer and I, in prime form, then proceeded to miss nice brown after nice brown for the next hour. By the time we had reached the end of the creek we had each missed about 5 nice browns.
Having grown quite frustrated with myself I changed streamer colors and resolved to catch one on the way back down. While I moved several fish as I worked back down, I just could not get them to eat the fly. As I came to the last fishable hole, the spot where I missed the first fish, my confidence was shot and I was about ready to call it a day. I got into position and cast to the same spot where I had missed a fish earlier, landing my fly 6” off the bank in a nice pocket behind a rock with a tree somewhat overhanging. The second my fly hit the water a fish exploded on it (I love these types of eats – when you seemingly land a streamer on a fish’s head and it eats your fly instantaneously). Thankfully I didn’t miss the hookset and was able to land the fish, which was a nice ~20” brown (pictured below).
Having finally landed at least one spring creek brown we decided to head back to the truck to warm up with a hot lunch and hot coffee. Back at the truck we set up a makeshift shelter using a tarp from the back of Guille's truck. We were struggling with how to hold up the final corner of the shelter without rope when I realized that my Simms Dry Creek backpack might serve as a useful counter balance. Thankfully it worked as you can tell from the photo, we were all a bit saturated on the outside, some of us also on the inside. Thankfully my Simms G4 Guide Jacket was still keeping me dry on the inside.
Feeling rejuvenated after having been warmed up and re-energized from hot coffee and a hearty stew, we made our way over to a nearby stream. The day quickly went from being merely a decent day of streamer fishing (I had landed about 12 fish, including the big spring creek big brown) to one of epic proportions. For the next 3-4 hours we covered somewhere between 1-2 miles of water and pulled 1-3 stunningly spotted brown trout out of every hole along the way. Needless to say, we forgot about the rain and our increasingly damp interiors...
Check out the short video below for small taste of the action!
Contact Hemispheres Unlimited for a Trout Bum trip of your own.