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A Day For Doubles

Al Agnew

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I hadn't been fishing yet in 2013, and I was getting pretty crabby about it. I don't go when it's supposed to be below freezing for a good part of the day, and it seemed like every time the weather got a little warmer, I had something else on the schedule. So with the weather forecast for Monday and Tuesday calling for very warm temps but rain, I decided I just had to go today. But where to go? Well, I hadn't yet fished below the big spring where I go once each winter, and that sounded like fun. Do some wading, fish for trout with the fly rod and bass with my casting tackle.

I got a fairly late start. It was nearly 10:30 AM when I got to the parking lot, donned my waders, and started the quarter mile hike to the river below the spring. When I got within sight of the river, I could see two guys fishing where I wanted to fish, but they weren't in what I knew to be the best spot. I went upstream, waded across the river above the spring, and back down to the gravel bar across from it. I was carrying my 5 wt. fly rod, broken down and stuffed down the top of my waders, and the 5.5 ft. casting rod ready to be rigged up. I tied on a jerkbait and waded out to where I could easily reach the sweet area. On the first cast, a nice smallmouth followed the lure in without taking it. A couple casts later, I caught the first one, a pretty 15 incher. A couple casts after that, I hooked a smaller fish, and watched as a much bigger one tried to take the lure away from it and got hooked as well. A double in January!post-218-0-06433600-1359421583_thumb.jpgThe larger fish was pushing 17 inches.

The jerkbait bite stopped after that, so I put on a hair jig. I got several takes, but the fish were wary and almost immediately spitting it out. I finally sank the hooks into another 16.5 incher, and there was a guy watching me as the fish jumped three times completely clear of the water. He was more excited than I was about it. I caught one more on the jig, a 14 incher, and by that time the other two guys had disappeared. So I put back on the jerkbait and waded down to where they'd been fishing. I caught two more smallmouth, both about 13 or 14 inches, and a 12 inch largemouth.

I was really looking forward to fishing the next good pool downstream. I've often caught my biggest fish in that pool. It isn't very deep, but there are usually fish in it. But I fished it carefully with the jerkbait without a bite. The water was exceptionally clear, but the wind was blowing hard, and it was difficult to see if there were any fish showing interest in the jerkbait. But certainly none followed it out to where I could see them.

I continued fishing the jerkbait for another half mile, even though there aren't any more good bass holding areas, wondering if I could catch a trout or two on it. Nothing doing on the trout, although I had a couple follows, but I did catch two more 12 inch smallies.

So it was time to seriously try to catch some trout. I took the expensive reel off the casting rod and stashed it in my pack, and then hid the rod up on the bank so I wouldn't have to carry it as I was flyfishing. I rigged up the fly rod with two nymphs, a hare's ear and a pheasant tail. I was at a spot where there was a bunch of submerged logs, but there was one short, clear run in between the logs. On the first drift through that run, I caught a very brightly colored rainbow with intact fins, maybe a fish that had been in the river for a while.post-218-0-30703700-1359421606_thumb.jpg

I couldn't catch more than one trout out of any of the runs I fished in the next mile or so downstream, but I caught three more 12-13 inchers, and then a heavy 17 incher. I didn't bother to take a picture of it because it looked like a brood fish that had just come from the hatchery, with worn-off fins and very dull colors, but it fought very well, with a couple of high leaps and some strong runs.

And I also caught my second double of the day...post-218-0-65350300-1359421626_thumb.jpg

Hey, I didn't say that it was a double of trout or bass!

The afternoon passed all too quickly. I looked at my cell phone clock, and it was almost 3 PM. I'd gone far enough downstream.

I waded back up the river, fishing a couple of spots that I'd skipped when bass fishing on the way down. When I came to that pool where I thought the bass should have been but weren't, I was curious, so instead of fishing up it, I climbed up on the high bank and walked up it, wondering if I could see any fish. I did. I saw probably 25-30 bass, none of them huge, but several in that 16-17 inch range. So, knowing they were there, I walked on up to the top of it, got back in the water, broke down the fly rod and rigged the casting rod with the hair jig, and fished back down the pool...and still didn't catch anything. Those fish were either not active at all, or were just too wary.

I thought about fishing at the spring mouth again, but the sun was sinking fast, so instead I decided to call it a day. I'd temporarily satisfied my fishing craving, anyway.

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