Same Waters — Different Day (River Moods)

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Trinity River Steelheading
Steelhead junkie – Gary Seput
& late season Companion

“You guys must have your local waters wired,” is a comment we often hear in the shop from young aspiring anglers who obviously have much to learn. We appreciate the support and enthusiasm but comments like this could not be farther from the truth. Even after investing a combined (Herb-Kit) total of 49 years full time guiding and devoting 62 years fishing our local waters our guide trips and personal outings are still based solely on stoke, gut instincts and or a seasoned guess or hunch at best. Elementary, so vast so unpredictable Ma Nature and her forever changing personalities and behaviors always maintain the upper hand. You learn early or go home. Fact is and as strange as it may sound, the more time we spend on our waters the more we truly understand what and how much we don’t know.

Dry fly fishing
3rd rise the charm…GB

A prime example and no finer proof have been the past few weeks out on the water. Generally March delivers some very predictable high quality late season winter steelhead dry fly activity. Mayflies (Baetis-Callibaetis) Stones (Calineuria) and Caddis (Hydropsychidae) dominate mid-day hatches and inspire both steelies and occasional brown trout to selectively feed in the upper columns. In between hatch sessions traditional nymphing yields the occasional trophy. This year has been far from the norm and challenged the best. Since the beginning of March we have experienced a rash of abnormally cool wet unsettled weather. We have not had two consecutive days of the same weather pattern. March Madness—Don’t like the current weather served up give it a few hours. It is remarkable the impact these dynamic patterns have had on our fisheries. Sensitive is a word that has been used by some to best describe current fishing while others simply call it strange or weird. No rhyme or reason, one day the entire upper reach is firing off with solid action, hatches, free rising targets and solid grabs. Next day, same waters are influenced by a completely different weather pattern and fish are non-receptive, shut down and you would swear there isn’t a fish in the river.

Trinity Brown Trout
Brothers from distant mothers.
Tom – Kit- Brownie

Anglers who have recently fished with us consecutive days have experienced both worlds. Those who were fortunate to score both days are still wearing smiles of success. Recently Bob Burke and Raider Russ Giuntini and I celebrated Bob’s 70th birthday out on the water. The day started out perfect and weather promising. Two hours into it we had to seek cover from severe white caps and broken branches being whipped up and launched by 30-40 mile hr. howling winds. Surprisingly conditions simmered down and we managed to find some remarkably good dry fly fishing in between the squaws, just when we least expected it.

Green Drake
Open wide – T.R.
Green Drake

On the flip side mild sunny days, which have been far and few, have produced some of the slowest fishing of the month. Yet, wet and mild rainy day has triggered a potpourri of hatches and willing fish, including some unexpected exciting bonus Green Drake (Grandis #8) surface action. But why such a day to day drastic change? Is it the unsettled weather patterns, rain-sleet-hail-snow-temperatures-wind-barometric pressure? Or are fish simply uncomfortable with the instability? Ask the weather Gods. Ask the fishing Gods. Ask the River. Ask the Fish. Sometimes it is best not to ask why. It is called fishing and if that isn’t good enough we suggest you refer to the last sentence in the first paragraph. Stable Conditions & Rings of Rises!

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