Monday, June 25, 2018

Savage River Diaries - June, 2018

The Savage is my favorite little river. It is technical but holds cooperative fish. It is accessible but engrossing. It is pocket water around every bend with distinct wild browns right where you think they'd be. It is native brookies, some pretty rainbows and at least one cutthroat. It is beautiful and cold and green. Here, I slide right into a state of flow and it's comfortable like an old and worn pair of leather boots.  This place has become my place of pilgrimage.

This is also one of the three stretches of water I'd planned to take my wife to this year. We made the drive and booked a room at a nearby farm through AirBnB. On our way to fish the first evening's hatch we crossed paths with a large black bear on the road, which isn't unusual.

We met my brother at the campground and walked to PhD Pool. Stacy set up shop on river right with her sketchbook and watercolors while Mark and I set up on river left with our 5wts and sulphur patterns. We sat and settled into conversation.

Mayflies began to dance above a downstream riffle so we knew they'd be above the upstream one, too. Sporadic risers began to interrupt our conversation with increasing frequency but we didn't get up; we only remarked on their particulars. We had been talking about life, marinating in the setting and scenery, and were satisfied with that until an agreeable riseform stood us up. Mark cast to and landed her; a gorgeous 16" brown brought to hand in the fading light.

With that, the three of us retired for the night and resolved to hit the water early in the morning for a full day of pocket water prospecting.

The morning found us working upstream from pocket to seam to foam line and finding more than a few smaller fish. The water was running a little high and made upstream wading more difficult than usual. The riparian rhododendrons were shrouded in cobwebs bedecked with several species of mayfly.

My wife is an apt pupil and is better at this than she thinks she is. She can put a fly close enough to where she intends although her fish fighting ability really needs some work. Practice is the best teacher in that regard.

Some brookies are prettier than others and the Savage has more than its fair share of them. There are some browns in there that are also a sight to behold. Mark fished the opposite bank and we all worked upstream together. It's a pleasure watching him fish.

We wrapped up the second evening hoping for a sustained hatch that never materialized. Bugs were flying around but they didn't bring the fish up to meet them. As the riverside forest grew dark beneath the cloudy sky we trekked back to the cars and made a fire at Mark's camp.

On our last morning, Stacy and I opted for more of the same while Mark went off on a solo downstream jaunt that took him to a deep pool from which he was able to take a few fish on a streamer. The Savage River screamer brown trout was not to be found, but a big acrobatic rainbow was eager to play.

While the sun burns off the morning fog after you've had a great few days on one of your favorite rivers, there are worse ways to spend a few minutes than in grateful streamside contemplation.

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