Thursday, October 24, 2013

Home Water

Why we so readily adopt geography into our identity is a mystery to me-- but there is something special about being able to call a body of water your home water.  By home water I mean the water you head to without hesitation, and with relative surety as to where you're going to fish, what flies you're going to fish with, and where the fish are going to hold given the current conditions.  Water that you can't help but start missing if you haven't stopped by and said hello in a while. I guess I'd still have to say the Truckee river is my home water despite the years we've spent apart and even despite the fact I've lost much of the finesse and familiarity that make you feel like you've really got it.

I suppose the main reason it still feels like my home water is the fact that it's where I first learned to fly fish and where I was first confronted with the overwhelming depths of this obsession we sometimes call a hobby.  And it was on the Truckee that I learned that some adages hold a bit of truth, such as 10% of the fisherman catch 90% of the fish.  I wanted so badly to be a ten percenter that I learned more than a few of her plastic-bag ridden stretches to the point where I recognized individual rocks, sunken logs, riffles, bends and even knew the names of a couple of homeless dudes that slept on nearby park benches.  And to some extent it worked-- I caught more than my fair share of fish.

Back when I still brought 'em home
It's been over three years and the people under the bridges have different names, the reno fly shop has long since closed, and one of my favorite lunch-break fishing spots is now in the back of a Wal-mart parking lot.
But on a recent trip back it took mere minutes for me to sink back into a comfort zone with this river.  And I couldn't have timed it better-- it was fall and the fishing was nothing short of great.  It was right in the sweet zone when the nights were getting cold and the browns were more aggressive than normal in anticipation of the spawn.  And I caught more than my fair share of fish:

By noon on the first day I had caught a hefty twenty inch brown (pictured above) a good number of healthy rainbows and was on a high-- in the wise words of Xenie Hall, "'s like mainlining some sort of drug, man."  I could have gone home happy right then.  But we never do, do we?  I switched locations and a couple of hours later I hooked the biggest fish of the trip on a size #16 baetis pattern.

I was instantly reminded how difficult and chaotic it is to land a large fish on 5x and a small fly.  I've been spoiled by thick tippet and big flies when fishing for carp in the Columbia or steelhead and trout in the Deschutes.  It required a long, stumbling, downriver chase as well as several sketchy trips to the middle of the river to keep my line out of the rocks.  In the end I won and I had a beautiful 26 inch fish in my net.  It wasn't a big-shouldered fatty that I would have loved it to be, but it's length makes it the second biggest fish I've taken in this river-- stoking the fire ever higher:

Another highlight was reconnecting with my carp-killing buddy the second day.  Tom, who recently moved back to the Reno-Tahoe area, had already experienced the frustration that the Truckee river can dish out, and so it was great to see him have a decent day on the water.  Plain and simply we caught a lot of fish.  We didn't see the quality in size I had the previous day but a few decent cutt-bows were held in hand and we reminisced on our near-weekly carp quests last summer.

I can't wait to get back there again and fish with this dude-- no matter where we fish.  Heck maybe next time we'll chase the golden ghost so he can out-fish me with my own flies again (a regular occurrence on the Columbia river):


Ryan said...

Looks like it didn't take you long to get back in the swing of of things, great story.

swittersb said...

Beautiful piece of work!! Wonderful images and writing.


Anonymous said...

Brian, I always enjoyed your previous Reno Trout envy blog and fishing adventures on the Truckee. Liked all the fly patterns you posted there. Have use a bunch of them in the E Sierras. Its good to see you getting some time back on home ground. Am enjoying your new blog from up North. THanks for sharing your adventures with us.

Keith Roberts

Brian J. said...

Thanks all!

Keith-- I love hearing about success on the patterns I used to tie. A couple of those are still my secret weapons, and one in particular was responsible for the two biggest fish shown in this post. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Brian, Your Uncle Steve and I always enjoy your fishing blog. You are one awesome fisherman and photographer.

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