It has been a little over a year since my uncle dug my grandfather’s old fly rod out of his garage and passed the beautiful Fenwick on to me. My first fly fishing trip in Arizona was to a small stream on the Rim that holds a great population of wild rainbows mixed in with a few browns. This stream was not the ideal place to put my meager fly casting knowledge to use, but the lessons were quick and many, and before long I was generally staying out of the trees. I returned to this stream on Saturday with my good friend Jake and we hiked down in to the creek in search of those willing rainbows.
The day started cold with the temperature hovering at a brisk 46°, but I cherish the days when I am not constricted in a set of waders, so I chose instead to wet wade. Cloud cover kept the temps low and the heat of the day only reached the mid-60s. The overcast light seemed to really turn the fishing on and rainbows were attacking dry flies from the moment that we stepped into the cold creek. All of the fish we caught were the wild rainbows that call this creek their home. Their spots and colors were extraordinarily beautiful and unique to each specimen and each fish showed its spunk and tenacity with they way they would fight and jump. I did bring one brown in full spawning colors to the net but quickly released the healthy fish without a picture. We spotted several browns that were going through the spawning motions and attempted to leave them alone.
Fall colors were in full swing with the trees creating a beautiful backdrop to fly fish. Wildlife was in abundance as we walked the creek. Several whitetail does showed up to watch my ugly casting and try and figure out what fool would be standing in the frigid water waving a stick around. They stuck around for a little while, apparently unconcerned and realizing that I was not after them. I could not help but smile and chuckle, thinking about all of those deer hunters trucks on the top of the ridges, knowing most of the deer are going to be sneaking around in the lower canyons and creek beds. Another interesting sighting of the day was a coatimundi who was slowly making his way along a ridge above the creek. I had only seen one other coatimundi in Arizona and find them a fascinating creature, cherishing any sighting of these bizarre animals.
Several very big fish were lost throughout the day. Jake missed a bigger brown and I also missed a large fish. While casting to a dark pool nestled up under a tree trunk, I made the perfect cast that bounced my mini-hopper off the tree and deposited my fly a few inches from the bank. A massive nose broke the surface and slowly and nonchalantly slurped the dry fly. I waited and as he turned I lifted the rod and felt the bend, but as he turned, one powerful kick left my fly rod limp and flyless. Moments like that break a fisherman’s heart, but are one of the reasons I will go back again and again. Most of the rainbows in this creek do not get much bigger than 10 or 12 inches, but I did land the beauty above who pushed 12 inches. After a spirited fight, the fish posed nicely and showed the beautiful spots that mark most of this stream’s inhabitants.
Looking back and seeing how far I have come and how much I have learned since I first set foot in that creek over a year ago is a little more than amazing. I am thankful for every chance that I have to get out into God’s creation and experience all the beauty that radiates from his handiwork.