I started the morning as usual, dragging my weary bones out of the tent into the cold morning air. The truck heater had mostly thawed me out by the time I pulled into Fisheads and the Back Cast Cafe for a warm breakfast and a steaming cup of coffee. As I cleaned the plate free of any morsel of food and burned my mouth gulping coffee, I realized that I was going to need to replenish my box before I got back on the water. I had originally tied up 4 of every bug (two #24s and two #22s), not really knowing what was going to work or what I was going to need. A Red Hot combined with either a zebra midge or a KF emerger was my go-to rig so far and had picked up most of my fish in the first two days on the water. Fisheads was all out of hooks so I headed over to Float and Fish and Ray, the gentleman behind the counter, was all kinds of helpful showing me hooks and talking about the river. I tied on the tailgate for a little while, but once my hands were too cold to work, I called it quits and hit the water.
Fish started coming to the net with regularity and I fished all the likely looking water I could find. The crowds from the weekend were gone and I was able to fish just about anywhere I wanted.
Ultimately these pictures do not do these fish justice as many of these rainbows show off some spectacular colors in the sun.
I continued walking and found myself in an area known as the Upper Flats which was being heavily fished at the time. I watched other fishermen cast for a while and as I turned to head back to the truck for lunch, I saw a nose and mouth come out of the water for dries in one of the side channels. I clipped off my nymph rig and tied on a long line of tippet and a Griffiths Gnat and fished to rising trout. After several refusals, one rainbow did take my fly, but a poor hook set allowed him off without much of a fight. I fished to these risers for almost an hour and realized that the situation was hopeless. I headed back to the truck to tie up some more midges and smaller Griffiths for the afternoon.
During my lunch tying session, I whipped up enough midges to last me the remainder of my trip as well as had myself another unbelievable peanut butter and huckleberry jam sandwich to make it through the rest of the day. I met some fellow Arizonians who actually were friends of guys in my regular fly tying group. (Pleasure to meet you Tom and Paul.)Small world.
I got back on the water as the parking lot started to fill back up, and the Red Hot pattern continued to produce well into the evening. I was a little disappointed that I never made it back up to the Upper Flats to try out some of my smaller Griffiths, but that will give me a reason to go back.
The last fish to the net came out of the riffles above Kiddie Hole. I had been slowly stalking back through the current trying to use the last bit of sun with my polarized glasses to locate feeding fish. I could not actually see anything in this particular riffle but knew there had been fish there the day before. I plunked the flies at the top of the fast water and watched them drift through several times. The next drift brought a fish up and I lifted the rod to find the shaking head of a rainbow trout. After a good little run, the rainbow begrudgingly came to the net for a quick photo. As we both sat their looking at each other, I could not help but smile and thank God that I had the opportunity to fish and enjoy this wonderful creation.
I fished for another half an hour but was exhausted from the workout the few days of fishing had given me. Throughout the day, I had brought over a dozen fish to the net and had lost way more than that. I headed back to camp for dinner and heated up a tasty venison stew that I had made up just for my trip.
The Navajo State Park that I stayed in was a fantastic campground. For 10 bucks a night I had a campsite and a shower. It is pretty nice to clean up after a day of sweating in waders and handling fish. With one more day to fish, I passed out in the tent dreaming of big San Juan rainbow trout.