Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Year in the Making

This particular backcountry adventure has been nearly a year in the making. Attempting to mesh my busy schedule and my friend's equally busy schedule has been quite a task.

We finally found a window that worked for both of us and it just happened to be Memorial Day weekend. Knowing the streams get crowded on holiday weekends, we figured the 3.5-mile hike would thin out the herd a little.
My Friday ended at the ball fields at midnight and when the alarm went off at 3:30 AM, I thought to myself this is going to be a looong day!
I met my friend at 5:00 AM and we headed for the trailhead. I have made this trek a couple of other times but this would be the first for him. It's 2.5 miles to the top of Allegheny Mountain (the eastern continental divide) and another mile straight down to the water. Once at the stream, we geared up and hiked on downstream with plans to fish back to the trail.
These are typical sights in the rugged, canyon section of this stream.
By the time we decided to start fishing, the sun still had not hit the water in the deep canyon - and I'm not sure the sun EVER hits some of this water.
You have to love it when you start the day off with these two in the same pocket:
They were diggin' the 18 BH pheasant tail dropper!
Shortly after I caught what would be my biggest brookie of the day:
I continued to pick up fish, a good mixture of wild bows and native brookies.
I caught my friend checking out the cruisers in the pool below, it also gives perspective to the falls.
I think this may be one of the sections that never see direct sunlight. It's also a good "Where's Waldo" shot.

After fishing for a couple of hours, we stopped at one of the several nice campsites for lunch. My friend parked his rod on a streamside snag while we ate. For some reason I was impressed with the balance of the rod.
Shortly after lunch he picked up what would probably be the biggest fish of the day - a trophy brook trout anywhere.
As we fished back to the trail, the fishing did not slow all morning. It was probably 70/30 mixture of rainbows to brookies and probably 80/20 dropper to dry. I had pockets of water where I caught three fish, two pockets I caught four, and one pocket just below this set of falls that I caught SEVEN.
My friend nicknamed the small pocket the "clinic hole" as I put on a clinic, pulling seven rainbows of multiple age classes out of it.
Following that display, I finally convinced him to add a dropper.
The gradient drops after you move above that set of falls - the largest on the entire length of the stream.
I had also never caught a brookie above those falls (that I can recall). I did, however, pick up a couple of brookies above the falls including this nice little specimen:
Knowing we had a grueling 4-mile hike back to the vehicle we called it a day when the mid-afternoon sun started heating up. But before we headed back up and over Allegheny Mountain, I always like to try to catch one more before hitting the trail.
What a way to end the day of fishing, the same way I started it, with a beautiful brookie!
The journey out wasn't bad as we stopped several times along the stream that follows the trail on the west side of the divide. We were stopping to check out the brilliantly colored brookies in the tiny pools of the small stream. In one small pool we counted five nice brook trout!
During our day in the backcountry on the holiday weekend, we saw over twenty other people (3.5 miles from the closest trailhead) but not a single other fisherman. All of these individuals were hikers enjoying the beautiful scenery and the great weather.
I must be getting old or I'm getting out of shape because I'm a little sore today (and it was only about ten miles of hiking). Even a little sore, I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

1 comment:

Gary said...

Chris great report! I lost your email address, so could you please email me at: about the Gila Trout trip.