Family Camping Adventure ANF 7.7.7 - 7.9.7

The family and I returned to the ANF, staying at the same camp area, and had another weekend of fun.  Here's a recap.

We arrived around sunset Saturday evening and with good teamwork the wife and I setup camp in 20 minutes, this time including a custom, handcrafted port-a-loo. (sorry, these won't be available for resale on the website anytime soon!  That evening, just after the sun had tucked behind the mountains and everything alive in the woods started to get much louder, we were excited (well I was...the kids weren't) to hear the calls of a coyote on a trail above out campsite.  In the middle of the evening, the coyote pack (at least three of them) decided to take a trip through the site and across the creek to the other side.  Hearing them walk through at 2AM was good for a few extra beats per minute.  Thankfully the rest of the family was asleep.  That was until around 4AM when the raccoons decided to start brawling over who would have dibbs on my coffee cup that had rootbeer left in it (guilty party got 30 lashes).  I don't think my kids will stop talking about how scary those screams were! LOL!

Woke up the next morning, ate good food, carved up three boats for the yacht race at 10am with the kids, but before the races could begin...I laid down a fly for the lone fish that occupies this very popular, high traffic swimming pool. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same fish I hooked two weeks ago at that very same spot.

 

Sad to say, I was beaten in all three races.  My daughters design was narrow and sleek with a low surface profile.  My son had a jon boat type and my design based on a Viking war vessel complete with rudder just didn't have the speed to keep up with them.  Depressed I asked to be excused to the loser's corner and grabbed the fly rod for a trip upstream while the kids swam and played in the deep pool near the campsite with mommy.

 

I walked a good mile upstream and found myself a spot close to a deep pool with plenty of "fishy" cover.  I pulled out my nalgene container, mixed up some ice tea, and watched this stretch intently.

I've got great eyesight 20/15 if I remember exactly, but for some reason I just can't walk up on a stretch of water and actually "see" the fish.  It isn't until I relax and wait that they all of a sudden just pop out all at once.  From the moment I catch the first glimpse of movement, the water comes alive and I can then "see" everything.  I am comfortable with this impairment, so I sat down and waited...

Then, all of a sudden I knew I had picked the perfect spot to wait, listen, and learn.  It was teaming with fish.  Many little ones and what I thought were a few decent size as well.  I tied on a dark hendrickson in a size 14/16, found a perfect casting lane, and proceeded to lay down what I thought was the perfect cast.  As i watched my fly float down into the belly of the pool overtop the deeper water, I witnessed in horror as a few of the little trout b-lined the other direction and in that instant, whammo...out of her hiding place, in a crease, was what I will call a "monster" for this little trickle of a stream.

For reference, the reel pictured is 3.25 inches across.

I played the fish into the tailout, took a few photos and walked down a bit and released her in another area far from the pool.  At this point, I had some time and decided to relax and regroup.  I dried my fly off, straightened my leader, and waited.  In a matter of a few minutes, activity resumed in the hole as the "threat" had left.  Oh, not so!

Again a cast into the perfect drift and a float into the belly.  From the same location, the mate of the fish I just caught slammed my fly.  I proceeded to hook a half dozen fish out of this area over a period of 40 minutes. 

I left with a smile on my face and a satisfaction that I had caught some very nice fish.  Now I couldn't wait to share the photos with the family and tell a tale!

But there was still more fishing to be done.  On my walk, I crept down an embankment and hid behind a downed tree a small ways back from a root ball that dipped its tentacles into the water.  During my previous visit, I had attempted to hook a brazen little brookie out of this location only to slap the water and put him down for what seemed more than I could bare.  He resumed his activity, but did not want anything I had to offer.  This time, I was determined to catch him.  So I sat, crouched in the most uncomfortable position, waiting for him to show himself.  And he did!  With multiple leeps out of the water.  He had some acrobatic skills and an appetite to go with them, I'm sure!

I tied on a 14 caddis and this time paced my casting to get the location accurate.  Well, my first couple casts were pathetic.  It was this darn tree in front of me that I had to cast under and upstream.  Then there was this half dead pine tree behind me with claw like tree branches just waiting to snatch my fly out of the air and put it into a tangled mess!  I thought to myself, slow down...relax, you've got all day fi you need it.  Don't let impatience impede success.  My bad casts were allowed to flow down stream to my feet.  I collected my excess fly line onto the reel and took a few breaths. I had my heart set on doing this right.  After a short time, a few false cast to get the lane I was after and then the lay down...Darn it, the line dropped in the line I wanted, but it was short.  As the fly drifted back to my feet it was intercepted by another trout taking up the tailout. "Shoot", he'll spook the guy I want...."get em in, get em in!" as I pulled line frantically.  Ok, it is now or never....I aimed, I cast, I got it.   Right where it needed to be, where this little rascal was making jump after jump......slam and the water exploded.

No, he's not 15 inches, but worth every bit of the experience for me. 

Now I was done fishign for the day.  Monday AM, the family decided to take a walk down stream.  The entire area had experienced a masse exodus the afternoon before as people packed up and returned home.  So, we had the entire place to ourselves.  It was quiet and quite nice!

We headed down the stream and took it past many established campsites until it converged with the main river that flows through the valley.  The water of the main river was very warm and most likely void of trout outside the area that the stream flowed into it. I layed out a few dozen casts into the spillway and didn't experience any excitement.  The kids played and threw rocks while the wife sat and watched us all taking in the moments of relaxation as they allowed.

Not one to miss an opportunity, I removed my 3# tippet off the leader and tied on a size 14 woolly bugger.  I figured I'd either snag a sucker or hook into a smallie.  Casting a woolly on a 2wt is not fun!  It is alot work.  I logged in a few dozen casts and stripped my bugger through the cold and into the warm water.  Finally, on what I thought was my last cast, I looked into this smallie.  BTW, it was a blast.  It felt much bigger given the weekness of the rod.

 

Before the weekend was over, we traveled the open road and hit a hatchery.  The kids had an absolute blast here.  Nothing better than feeding hungry fish.  Nothing worse than trying to remove the fish emulsion smell from your hands afterward either!

 

 

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