On the third day of our adventure we woke up in the forest at our campsite to the sounds of birds singing and hikers walking up the trail towards the high peaks.
We grabbed the bear-barrels from their stash-spot, ate some breakfast, and got ready for a long day of fishing. The map showed that we had plenty of stream to cover, so we set off down the trail to get to our intended start point.
We figured the major challenge of the day would be bright sun and our shadows, cast on the water to spook fish...
But we were wrong. The fish were hungry, darting quickly from their hiding places under rocks to strike a fly at any opportunity.
We went pool for pool, and split the stream up into sections where we didn't have pools to fish, leap-frogging each other on the way up. There was plenty of water and we had plenty of fish to catch.
Areas like this one, below create wonderful hiding spots and deeper channels where the fish hide. Its always a good bet to drift through those little channels - they are like the "pools" of fast moving sections of stream.
And each one yielded nice fish, too.
A big portion of this trip was about surveying the stream to see how the trout were recovering... and it appeared they were recovering nicely! With an average of 7ish inches on the fish I caught, this stream has a head start on some of the other small streams I've fished in the high peaks.
In addition to the average sized brookies I speak of above, some pools were clearly homes and possibly spawning grounds for the little guys, like this:
Other pools were deeper than they looked, and I lost a really nice fish here somehow.
But there was never a reason to fret, as around each bend and over each large rock a new waterfall, plunge-pool or small-run waiting just for us.
Part of this kind of fishing is the landscape, and I was paying more attention to that than to my drifts for most of the day, not such a bad "problem" to have, right?
I spent a lot of the day practicing casting with unweighted kebari and using a Nissin Air Stage 240 and an Oni type III. I switched to the standard bead head flies that I enjoy tying, like the one below, for the deep, fast plunges where fast-sinking was necessary.
One of my favorite views of the day, where I ate an afternoon lunch. Afterwards, I grabbed a small brookie along that ledge.
And so it continued...
... for a few more hours, until the bugs got intense, and the headnets came back out.
We had been on the water for hours, a whole day almost, and I was starting to get a little bit tired and sloppy about my casting.
Luckily that didn't matter too much - as the sun dipped, the fish became more eager and willing to dart out from their hiding spots to grab a fly.
I wondered if there were possibly two different strains of brookies in the area... one seemed more turquoise and purple with more silvery undersides, with the other being more green and tan, tones of copper and all... as seen in this contrast. I don't know enough about the science to make any calls...
I decided to call it quits after this last perfectly-proportioned fish... I had lost count long ago, and was more than content with where the day had gone.
Weary and sore from three days of navigating large rocks and rushing water, I made my way back to camp to get us set up for dinner.
Sugi joined me a a bit later and we set to cooking and relaxing, while I began to learn the Japanese Alphabet and some new phrases for my trip in September.
We retired early to our tents - Sugi in his Hilleberg and me in my zPacks Solplex. As I lay back in my sleeping bag, I recounted the events of the last 3 days, fishing so many beautiful spots for different kinds of trout, with different rods and flies.
Slowly I drifted off to a sleepy dreamscape, loosely defined by the repetition of the motions of that day. The fly, landing perfectly in just the right place; something about the rhythm - picturing, no feeling - the perfect cast, and then that moment the fish appears and takes the fly...