Wednesday, January 11, 2012
1/06 - 1/07 TaneyComo " Tailwater Trout...Re-Learning Old Tricks"
This past weekend I turned another year older and while I wish I could say that I'm a wiser man for my years , it's probably not the case. I'm pretty sure that I'll continue to be outsmarted by a fish with a brain the size of a pea at fairly regular intervals , at least I hope so!
With a birthday just a week after Christmas I've come to the realization over the years that nobody enjoys going out and buying "another gift" so soon after the big holiday season. With that thought in mind ,when the wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday I replied that the best gift I could think of would be to spend the day on the water with a flyrod in my hand. She totally understands this passion of mine ,and without argument ,insisted that I pack up and get away for a couple of days to do a little fishing. She didn't have to twist my arm terribly hard to convince me.
A phone call to my good friend Kevin found him looking to get away for a short trip as well, and before we hung up plans were made to meet down at Taneycomo on Friday evening. With the entire day off on Friday I decided to head down in the morning and do a little fishing before he arrived. Joe and I piled the usual collection of gear in the truck Thursday evening and we were on the road by 6:00 am on Friday. Not an early start by any means , but hell I'm getting old so what do you expect? Our first destination was a nice little stream that can fish really well, or not so much, depending on the water levels and movement of fish from the main river. I could tell from first glance that it wasn't running high enough to make for great fishing , but I also knew that there would be a few fish to be found if the time was spent looking.
This is one of those places where I can take Joe along and let him wander around ,just doing his own thing, without worrying about meeting up with other fishermen so it was decided that the solitude trumped the fishing prospects of another spot. I geared up in the small lot and we started making tracks downstream so we could fish our way back up.
I took notice of all my usual fish holding spots as we hiked along the stream and as I had figured there just weren't many fish to be seen. With all day to kill I decided to hike farther downstream than I'd previously been and check out some new water and maybe find a few more fish.
It was a beautiful day for January and the sun was just getting warm enough to melt away the thin sheet ice that had formed along the edges of the stream during the night before.
The stream was completely ours on this morning ,the only company we encountered along the way was a pair of wild turkeys scratching for their breakfast in an open field.
Even though it was lacking in fish numbers today we found some beautiful looking new water in our search that I can't wait to get back to when the conditions are a little better.
It was almost like being in New Zealand and stalking miles of river in search of trophy browns , the only difference being that we were in the Ozark foothills and instead of finding a handful of huge browns for every mile of hiking I was lucky to find a few small rainbows.
Other than that it was "exactly" like New Zealand!!
I enjoyed the hiking almost as much as the fishing and it wasn't until I noticed the incessant growling of my stomach that we decided to pack it in and head back towards the truck. It was almost 1:00 and I still needed to secure a campsite and get my tent set up. To save valuable fishing time lunch was a quick sandwich inhaled on the trip over.
After grabbing a spot in the all but empty campground and quickly getting a basic camp set I made a call to the SWPA to check generation below the dam. To my amazement the recording blurted out "zero units online". I almost had to hit redial just to be sure that I'd heard correctly , I never get that lucky! A short five minute drive across the dam and it was confirmed , no generation for a change. As I geared back up in the South parking lot I was surprised at the lack of fishermen on such a nice Friday. It wasn't empty by any means but for this tailwater fishery it was what I'd consider light crowds.
Happy Birthday to me!!
I'd like to say that I just walked down and started immediately tearing em up, but that wasn't the case. In the recent months I've spent too much time fishing small streams and freestone rivers where the trout live by a different set of rules than their tailwater brethren. The 5X tippet and size 14 GRHE weren't going to cut it for these wily fish. I'm admittedly a slow learner and it took me about an hour of fishing to downsize to 7X flourocarbon and a couple of size 20 scud imitations , from then on out it was game on!
Not a lot of size to anything I brought to hand all afternoon but the numbers were just crazy. Some spots were literally a fish every drift and if you missed the first strike and left the line on the water you'd promptly be rewarded with a second chance.
As much as I love to hate our crowded tailwaters and the damn unpredictable generation schedules, this is the kind of fishing that makes up for all those misgivings.
It doesn't usually come together and work out in my favor , but man it's a lot of fun when it does. Joe and I stayed on the water until it was almost too dark to see the indicator , it was one of those times when you keep telling yourself you'll quit fishing when the strikes quit coming and it just never happens.
Finally the thought of a cold beer and a campfire (and the impending darkness) drove us off the river and back to camp. Kevin wasn't arriving until around 7:30 so Joe and I ate a quick dinner and then I proceeded to throw back a few cold ones sitting around the fire.
Kevin showed up about three beers later and we spent the rest of the night trying to empty the cooler while reminiscing about past trips and planning even better ones for the coming year. I can't think of a better way to turn a year older than sitting around a campfire with a cold beer and good friends.
Saturday we rolled out of the tents about 7:00 and after a quick cup of coffee and a granola bar we took down camp and headed back below the dam. With no generation scheduled and none online currently we were both looking forward to another stellar day. It didn't take long to pick up right where I left off the evening before , the fish were still there and still hungry.
I looked over and saw Kevins rod bowed shortly after I landed my first one and knew that he was on the fish too. It turned out to be another great day of fishing , I'm pretty sure neither of us broke the 16" mark, but the abundance of fish willing to take a fly had us soon forgetting about size. We fished until about 1:00, then headed back to the vehicles for a tailgate lunch before packing it up for the long trip home.
I don't think either of us were ready to call it a day when we did , but I had a home-cooked birthday dinner waiting for me at home and Kevin still had to run over to Aurora and pick up some stuff from storage before making the haul back to Jefferson City. The first fishing trip of 2012 was officially in the books....not a bad way to start off the New Year.
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher