Early Winter Browns - Photo Essay
Skyler, Tommy, and I had been planning a trip up north for several weeks to hunt large migratory browns. We scheduled time off from work and made our preparations. When the time came the forecast was looking a bit cold and snowy. No strangers to winter fishing in the Rockies, we packed a couple extra layers and hit the road.
We arrived noon on day 1, set up camp, ate a quick lunch, and cracked a cold one.
Stomachs full, we set off for one of our favorite holes. I was up first and decided to work the run with the nymph rig setup first.
It wasn’t long before I was hooked up.
This skinny spawned-out brown wasn’t exactly what we were looking for but it was a start.
Skyler was up next.
It wasn’t long before he was hooked up with a fish of his own.
Another skinny post-spawn brown on the feed.
Skyler going for the net on another brown.
Skyler showing off another skinny brown.
We decided to switch tactics and locations. I switched to a medium-sized white streamer. After awhile I was rewarded with the nicest brown of the day.
Day 1 was a wrap. Time to take of the waders and sip on a cold cocktail. Skyler has incredible multi-tasking skills.
Day 2 started with coffee at sunrise.
Skyler a few casts in.
With a decent little rainbow.
A few casts later and I was slipping a fish into the net myself.
A little brownie on Shea Gunkel’s Shot Glass Baetis.
After that the fishing slowed down. Later on we moved locations, switched to streamers, and I stuck a few decent browns.
That afternoon Tommy finally rolled into camp. He brought a couple spey rods along and we decided to give them a try.
The two-handed rod was a first for Skyler and I. After 30 minutes or so of working the run I came tight to this beautiful Rocky Mountain Steelhead! Who says you have to travel to British Columbia to catch a steelhead? ;)
As I celebrated with a cold beer I snapped a few photos of the sunset.
Red sky at night, sailor’s delight…right?
Guess not, as we woke up to 2-3 inches of snow and temps in the low-teens that had been forecast. Fortunately there was no wind.
Also fortunate for Skyler was that I had put this towel in the back window to keep the snow out the night before.
Skyler had recently taken his camper on his honeymoon. What he hadn’t told me was that this remained on his spare tire for our entire drive up…
We bundled up and headed for the river. I was pretty jealous of Skyler’s hat.
The fishing was slow but the snow was beautiful.
Determined to perfect my snap-T cast, I decided to spend the day exclusively swinging streamers with the spey rod.
The first hour went by without a bump or a tug.
We decided to switch spots and on about my 7-10th cast at the new spot my line came tight and I set the hook. Immediately, I felt the weight on the end of my line and knew I was hooked up to something bigger than we had been catching the past 2 days. After a short battle (I was still fishing a 13’ steelhead rod), I slipped a nice male brown into the net.
I was pretty stoked to catch a large, clean, wild brown trout like this on the spey rod after only about 2 total hours of practice. I’ve got to say, swinging streamers with a two-hander is a lot more fun than I thought it would be. It also happens to be a pretty effective method for covering lots of water on this particular tailwater. I may have to pick one up for myself here soon...
The fishing the rest of the day went by pretty slowly. We caught several more fish but nothing particularly noteworthy. We just were not on the fish this trip. I don’t know if it was our technique, the water we were fishing, and/or the weather. Either way, we decided it wasn’t worth toughing out another single-digit temperature night in the camper with the heater not working and the roads getting worse by the hour. We packed up and headed off for a snowy drive home…