I went through half of my fly-boxes, changing my second fly until finally I found a combo this brute would take, and ironically its the right drift he took, since he took the attractor I had on the entire time
1. Well I guess I'll start with Big FISH: I love big fish and without question I have found the most big fish in the spring. Since the water is still relatively low and clear, it's 'easier' to find them; since the bug activity begins to pick up, it's easier to hook them; and since many of them start to color up, it's easier to see them.
2. There are so many options!! Should I go to the pan to fish for trout footballs every time they bump the flows? should I go to the Taylor and hunt the big guys who have made their way down from below the dam? should I fish Cheesman Canyon, and chase fluttering baetis and 10 pounders who have snuck their way out of Wig Wam? should I go to South Park and cast to cruising pods of hungry lake fed rainbows? or should I go explore new waters?
Fascination with Head Shakes
This guy definitely shook his head a few times
I have grown to love head shakes. There is no better affirmation of a clean fair hook up, then when a trout starts shaking its head, and turning its body into "head-to-tail" tacos. On big fish the first words that come out of my mouth (usually not purposefully), are "Right in the Mouth!" It's both in excitement and relief that the fish is not foul hooked. However, sometimes the trout doesn't treat you with big head shakes, but instead sits deep, or goes on screaming runs. Of course your first thought is, "dammit, I foul hooked it!" but often enough, especially on really big fish, hooked deep, there aren't initial head shakes, and sometimes no head shakes at all.
I experienced this on one of the largest cut-bows that I have landed to date. I was nymphing a long, deep run on the lower Blue River. Most of the takes that day were violent, and the head shaking was clear as day, but on one particular drift, my indicator paused (didn't sink or really stop) and I softly lifted the rod at a down-stream angle. I knew I had a fish on, but it did not shake or run hard at first, instead slowly it moved around the run. I had no control over the fish, so I knew it was a heavy fish, but it sure wasn't fighting yet: my instant mental conclusion was a foul hook-up.
About three or four minutes into the fight, the fish came near the surface, and the I saw a dorsal fin and tail, and the line was coming out of the water somewhere in front of that. So maybe I fouled it on a pectoral fin, or under the chin. The fish did eventually make some scurried runs, and bulldogged me in the deep, but I never once felt a clear head shake.
Eventually, a nearby fisherman helped me net the fish 3 feet under the water, since it never came to the surface, or ever showed any signs of rolling or drifting downstream (this was odd as well). And the outcome was a fair hook up on the tongue!! Completely unexpected, without a single head shake that I could tell.
Not a single head shake out of this monster
The beast ended up at 28 inches long and around 13 pounds, maybe my 5-weight and 6x put so little pressure on him, that he didn't even feel like head shaking.
I had to crop the photo to keep my ugly mug out of it (...and of course maybe to conceal the location)