I have never been much of a hiker, but when I took up Fly Fishing again after a fifty-year hiatus, I became one! Arizona Fly Fishing does not exactly come to mind when talking of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado some of the great Fly-fishing streams of America.
For those that know, they shake their collective heads and laugh!!! Now we do not have the prevalence of huge trout everywhere I am only talking about streams here. The lakes are a whole different ball game and will be visited later in other posts., but they are here in lesser numbers, and occasionally you get really lucky in these streams and catch one. We have plenty of Brown, rainbow also Apache Trout, Gila Trout, Brook Trout, and tiger trout although I have only caught Tiger trout in the lakes. Believe it or not, but there are a few lakes that have grayling as well!!!
The key is getting out there into the wilderness, that is when you will see some of the most beautiful country anywhere in America. Some streams are easy to get too, most are not. If you really want to get out there, it will take effort and preparation as well as emergency supplies, depending on how far off the grid you go.
This tale is about a small stream starting at about three-thousand-foot elevation outside Phoenix. Not that high up when you consider we have streams here well over eight-thousand-foot elevation and higher in parts of the high country of Arizona.
I have fished this stream twice before at different times of the year with no luck, and I was determined this time would have a different outcome! Interestingly in the winter, it is so different with no overgrown growth to impede you also much more water flow a whole different world.
Compare that to the middle of summer. I had to fight my way into some of the runs and pools, always looking for the shaded run!! The water was also much lower with the fish spooky but hiding out, waiting for a tasty morsel to dash out and grab!
I spent the day working my way up fishing spots I knew, but also with an eye to go higher up as I know there are some great pools and runs much further up, but time was my enemy. There still was no grasshopper action and no surface action. I could hear cicadas now again, but they were not around the stream. So, it was an underwater fly time!!!
The fish in this stream are not big, so after a few leaches stripped with no luck, I went to an indicator rig. I had one fly I have been itching to use for ages, and for some reason, my gut was telling me this is the day. Now, this is a dry fly, but it is a beautiful big bodied black ant with a foam body and short stubby reddish-brown legs. ( Brian Foss, a local fly tier made for me, great fly fishermen, friend and maker of killer flies and rods!!! )
I rig my wet flies differently to most; my usual fishing buddy goes crazy watching me catch fish this way!!!! Right, Marc?? I have an indicator that is split, so it is very easy to move up and down the line to vary the depth. Two feet under, I put this deadly ant, then I put a small split shot right above the knot, so it looks like his head, then eighteen inches under that I went with a size twenty black and a silver zebra midge. Deadly!!!
The water is shallow in the runs, maybe a foot to four feet, so you have to adjust the indicator to the speed of the flow, so you do not hook the bottom. Take the time for every run and pool as they are all different.
I can not tell you how many times I have dead drifted through a run or pool with no luck then adjusted the depth up or down and bang fish on!!! So, take the time and fish the run or pool before you move on. It will increase your catch rate!!!
I had been standing in the water at the edge for at least twenty minutes stripping leaches with no luck, that is when I put on the ant. The second cast upstream drifting down bang nice rainbow that put up a crazy fight on my four-weight rod, great sport same pool different technique fish on!!!
I used this rig for the rest of the day. I also passed up a lot of water as I wanted to get to the water, I had not fished. About Four-thirty, I reached the beginning of new water for me and caught some beautiful colored rainbows, but time was running out. Looking upstream, it was like a siren calling me! Darkness was around the next corner, so it was time to head back to the truck, which would take a while.
On my walk back, I was reflecting on the day and how lucky I am to live so near so many beautiful spots, Breathtaking is the only word to use!! The day was productive, with about eight or so beautiful colored fighting rainbows, each gave me his best!!! They all lived to fight another day. I only fish catch and release, and I am for sure going back.
Only this time, I will hike past all the stream I have fished and start fishing the new virgin waters for me chasing those elusive colored up Rainbows, and who knows I may even catch one of those legendary Browns that live higher up, or so the tale goes!!!!