Homeward bound on my spring break, I had high expectations for a week filled with bent rods and wild brown trout. Then the rain came, and it didn't stop. Rather then put a damper on my spring break, I was looking to maximize my fishing time by carefully choosing my fishing locations based on water levels. With a lack of USGS stations on the waters I fish, I resorted to doing it the old fashioned way, via listening. I can usually tell how high the water will be by listening to a small stream across the street from my house. When I awoke early on my first day off, I could hear the roar of the water through the open window and I knew that I could effectively cross off over half the waters on my hit list for spring break. After a failed early afternoon stalking carp, I hit up a very tiny stream hoping to catch the small population of wild browns off guard by using the high water to my advantage.
Too High For My Liking.
In the dead of summer I often fish this stream on my hands and knees using a dry fly and 7x. The trout often see me and run to the nearest cover well before I even have an attempt at casting to them. Today, the water is easily three times higher than any normal summer afternoon and I am using a double tungsten nymph rig under an indicator just to get my flies down in time. I don't have to crawl on my hands and knees anymore and instead, I am fighting to stay upright in the deep fast flows. My major problem with the high water is finding the new holding patterns of the trout. In the first run, the new holding water was situated under an overhanging evergreen tree with two feet of clearance. A low sidearm skip cast got the rig in there, and it wasn't very pretty. A foot long brown snatched the meal up before careening into the current, jumping once, and throwing the barbless hook into the nearest branch. I let out a chuckle and continued my way upstream repeating the same scenario with a few beautiful trout coming to hand.
After a brief while, I decided to switch out rods. I traded in a 864 for a 762 and a dry dropper rig. I wanted my first fish on a dry fly in 2011 to be a wild brown from this stream. The fly of choice? A butch caddis designed to float high and dry in even the flows of early spring. All the while, keeping afloat a nymph with a tungsten bead. It worked perfectly, except the brown trout weren't willing to take the caddis. Only a small young of the year fish struck the dry multiple times. Each time failing to fit it in his mouth. With my first trout on a dry eluding my grasp, I still exited the water with a huge smile on my face. I had replaced the stocked streams of Delaware with the wild and prolific streams of my youth and I had another seven days of this. I'm a happy camper.