I headed out to the river for some early morning fishing with @Kfish
this morning. We went to a portion of the river we have both never fished before. Today I decided that I was going to fish dry flies. I have done pretty well with nymphs this year, but haven't fished dries as much as I normally do. In part I think this is because I haven't made it out to the river in the evening yet.
The fishing started out hot. Fish were hitting my fly left and right, I just couldn't get them to stick for very long. Finally I landed a nice 4" bow. For the next 30 minutes or so the non-stop action from the little guys continued as I moved down the river. I LDR'd a few more and watched some jump out of the water after my fly. They were small, but it was fun watching them continually hit the fly.
As we moved down the river I noticed these little guys feeding on the surface all over. A bald eagle broke up the silence with a bunch of noise and then flew up and down the river a few times before eventually perching in a tree above us. Eventually we came to seam that was maybe a couple of feet deep and a couple of feet wide. My first cast in and I missed a fish that looked a little bigger than ones that were biting earlier. I made some more casts, but couldn't get any more rises from the fish. Then, on my last cast before I was going to move on a fish hit and luckily hooked itself. My reactions this morning seemed slow. After a fun little fight I hooked this guy.
We then continued to work our way further down stream. The further downstream we went the nicer the water started to look. Kfish took the first spot so I moved downstream to the next one. I was lazily moving down the river, trying to see around the bend to see what the river looked like downstream. We had to head back up river soon, so I knew this was probably going to be the last spot I'd fish this morning. There were low branches behind and above me, so I was making roll casts out to the deeper water and letting my fly drift 15 - 20 feet at a time.
After a bunch of casts a fish finally came up and took my fly. At first glance it looked to be another 10"-12" fish that has been plentiful on the Cedar this year. This guy made a few good runs and I was trying to be careful because I've lost a few fish this season from trying to horse them in too quickly. Eventually I started to make some ground on this fish, but it was slow going. The fish looked be be in the faster moving water so I slowly made my way down stream as I fought it. In my mind I'm thinking another feisty little 12" fish, which has made the fishing fun this year. I finally got the fish within 15 feet of me, but couldn't seem to get it any closer.
I hollered to Kfish because I couldn't make any ground on this fish and I didn't want to fight it for too long and wear it out too much. Kfish slowly made his way downstream to check things out and I tossed him my net to land the fish. After a few missed attempts we finally got the fish to slide into the net. As the fish slid into the net I finally got a good look at it, and I think Kfish did too. Could it it be, one of the mythological fish that supposedly live in the Cedar? No, the fish I was fighting was only 12". I quickly hurried to the net, tangling my rod and line in the tree above, to get a better look and there it is, a fat, healthy, football of a fish that was ~18".
It wasn't one of those 20"+ fish, but it was probably the biggest fish that either of us have seen on the river. I've heard all of the stories, seen the pictures of fish that were supposedly from the river, but now I have my own proof that there are some bigger fish out there.
The funny thing is, the night before both of us were talking about how we'd heard stories of big fish, but in all the years we've fished this river we've never seen them. Also, based on the way this fish fought and looked in the water, it makes me question some of the fish I've lost this season. Did I lose some bigger fish because I tried to bring them in too quickly? Questions that keep me coming back to try my luck again.
From what I saw this morning, and have seen this season, has made me hopeful that the Cedar is doing well. I have caught a bunch of fish in the 8-12" range this season and have tangled with a few that have felt and looked bigger. This morning there were a ton of fish in the 2-4" range feeding all over the place. I've seen lots of smaller fish feeding on different parts of the river as well. While I may not have caught a bunch of big ones, I am hopeful the different ranges in sizes and number of fish I've seen is a good thing. On a side note, I have noticed that most of the trout I've caught have been rainbows, where in the past it has seemed like a majority of the fish were cutthroats. Not sure if that is a coincidence, or maybe a result of the low flows we had last summer.
"Believe. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it's true".