Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Persistence Pays Off

The title of this post was going to be "High Water Suckers" until my persistence (some would call it stubborness) paid off. Two days of snow and rain had sent the river flow above 700 (and rising) but a beautiful spring evening drew me to the river regardless. A full moon hung in the sky to the east, no strings attached. The air temp was in the mid fifties and the water temp was rising above 40 degrees. Despite the high flow the water was a deep green color.

As I dropped into the Rocky River Metro Park off of I-90 I was surprised to see several fishermen lining the river. I headed farther south hoping the flow would decrease as I headed upstream. About 5:30 I climbed out of the car, pulled on my waders and fleece and walked to river to check things out.

My hopes that the high water would be too much for the suckers that had been the bane of my existence this spring were quickly dashed. On the first drift through a narrow run I picked up the first of what would be a half dozen suckers. I worked through the run, the riffle and the tail. I headed up to the big pool and fished the slow water, only to find more suckers.

The sun passed behind the houses atop the high cliff but the temperature didn't drop and it was just too nice an evening to leave the water. I tried the tail of the pool and the run behind it. Still nothing. I moved back to where I had started and worked my way through the water one more time hoping that in the lower light a few steelhead would be on the move. I spotted a fish (steelhead or sucker?) sticking its nose right into the head of a fast riffle. Odds were it was a steelhead since suckers tend to stay away from such fast water.

I drifted the black wolly bugger and chartreuse crystal egg through the riffle, again no luck. I worked to the back end of the run and decided to give it one more try. I dropped the flies upstream of the fast riffle and quickly the line stopped. I assumed the flies had gotten pinned beween the rocks, but set the hook just in case. I was pleasantly surprised by a flash of silver and pink. A hefty female had crushed the black woolly bugger and quickly turned downstream in the fast water. Chasing the fish in the high water was out of the question so I stood behind two large boulders and said a little prayer to the fish gods. The gods smiled and I turned the fish into the slower water near the bank slowly eased her back upstream. I brought her into the shallow water and reached down to remove the black fly from her mouth. She turned herself around and with only a slight nudge from my boot she swam back into the current.

An hour and forty-five minutes of frustration washed down stream. My mind instead was filled with memories of the green-backed fish with black spots, silver sides and a pink stripe. Persistence pays off.


Steve Cadwell said...

how do you measure cfs?

Chris Thompson said...

USGS does it for me. The best thing about the Internet is real-time river flows.