Hard days, night, Fly fishing at X Diamond Ranch AZ
My iPhone called me at 4-am, Sh%$#@, shave and shampoo out the door on the road at 4-15 am. Pitch black, the air smelling of rain. Funny it is the first day of the monsoon season, the weather guys are predicting heavy rains and flash floods where I am going in the high desert. Who would believe a weatherman that predicts it will be sunny every day in the desert for a living!
X Diamond Ranch is at about 7000 ft elevation, the little Colorado river runs through the South Fork Canyon where the ranch is located. Founded in 1833 it is run today by the 5 Th. generation of the founding family. If you want to stay over, they have some beautiful log cabins that are fully furnished. It is catch and release, only 5 rods per day allowed to fish. The fee is $50.00 for the day per rod, which is an incredible value for the type of fishing you get. Stocked rainbows and wild brown trout, beautiful scenery, a little piece of heaven.
Halfway to my destination, stop off at Mc Donald’s, large coffee two egg McMuffins, breakfast and one for later in the day for lunch, as I plan to fish all day. Driving up thru the pouring rain. I guess the weatherman was originally from Seattle, so he knows what he is talking about!!! Living in the desert, I could care less if it rained, nice and fresh! Arrived at exactly 8-15 am, 4-hour drive. Waders on, jacket on, hat with sunglasses, you must be optimistic! Paid my fee off to the stream.
Fishing my 3 weight Redington 7 ft rod, light tippet. Yellow, mixed color with green and silver grasshopper dry fly, with a black nymph trailing about 18” as my dropper. The water was low but with a little color from the rain of the night before. The other Fly fisherman was using a black colored dry fly with a red colored nymph. We both caught a lot of fish, so that begs the age-old question what works! Both!! Go figure!
The first cast, take. Missed, second cast fish on nice little 1 ½ lb. Rainbow. Great start! I had fished the upper river in the past with a guide Cinda Howard, Fly Fishing Arizona and Beyond. Great guide! Cinda will improve your fishing!
I decided that I wanted to explore the bottom part of the stream so started to walk in that direction. I did meet one other Fly fisherman, we talked about where we wanted to fish. Luckily for me, he wanted to fish the upper part, so off we both went in different directions. Taking my time, I walked along the banks away from the stream, checking out the runs and pools. I would then start at the bottom work up then move further down and do the same tactics.
I was always casting back up into the current, the fishing was excellent losing count of all the rainbows I caught. I missed a lot of fish on the dry, the takes were very fast. I must improve my line management as I lost more than I should have. Looking back on the day, I think for sure, I had just a little too much slack in the line as they took the dry. The fish were taking the dry and the nymph about equal amounts. There was no hatch on the stream, so it was a real mix and match.
Wild brown trout was my goal, about 2 hours in landed my first brown about 8”, beautiful fish, then in the very next ripple, hooked into a decent size brown fighting like hell, a minute later I had him at the net, bent over teasing him to the net, one look, I think I lifted too early as he took off again, my tippet snapped!!! Bummer he was a beauty!! I ended up catching 6 wild browns all in the 8 to 10’ range.
Reaching the bottom of the stream at the ranches boundary, I came across the other fly fisherman who had on at that moment a good 20” brown that was giving him fits. The fish ended up going under a big boulder, and the line snapped, was he bummed!!! Who could blame him! The pool up from him I took a nice 10” brown on the dry. That was funny, as he had just told me that where I was casting there usually was a beautiful wild brown lurking there. Next moment I had him on.
We stopped to chat and eat our lunches, turns out he was a very accomplish Fly Fisherman having fished all over the states. After lunch, we decide to wade up the stream together, leapfrogging each other as we went.
It was kind of crazy as the fish were on, it was nothing to take 2 or 3 fish out of the same run after you had let a fish run all over the place. The weather had just changed, from hot, dry days, to rain with heavy clouds lots of rain during the day on and off with new color in the water. Maybe that was why I was so lucky that day. It was certainly not skill!!!
I quickly caught 30 plus rainbows running in size from a pound up to two and a half pounds in weight also catching the 6 browns, but the day was not over. Fishing a deeper pool with a long shallow run that went under an overhanging bush, I cast my dry up into the flow, letting the dry run down into shallower water under the bush. As the fly went into the shade of the bush, bang, big trout on. Took my time bringing him to the net, easily 18” almost too big for my net! Biggest trout I have caught in that stream for sure.
I was almost getting punch drunk, so many fish. I just let them take their time getting to the net great sport! The coup de grace, was at the end of the day the last ripple. On the dry this wild brown took the fly and then danced on the surface all over the stream a real fighter, you could tell he was wild and having none of this fly. A high end to a spectacular day on the stream, 9 hours of hard fishing!
Now the drive home, stop off at McDonald’s, extra strong coffee. Keep my eyes open, drive in at 9-30 in the pitch-black night! What could be better!!!