Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day of the Dolly

Our best freind Campbell Williams wrote this fine tale below sometime this winter from the Sauk River.

Please enjoy:

Cold, 41* and raining steady. Low hung cloud canopy has kept the groundhog down under. River conditions are low and gin clear, not another soul on the river all day. I came up with a few new fly patterns earlier in the week and was eager to give'm a swim. I again stepped into the chilly NW waters of the Sauk river in hopes of finding some winter steel. I hit my favorite run first, which is well worth the hike. It gives me a chance to warm my legs and stretch my back as I duck and dodge the barren salmonberry briers. Fresh elk tracks remain in the receding snow and I follow them down to the rivers edge. Once again I string up my trusty Winston 13'3" spey rod and pull out line from the Hardy "Bougle MK IV" reel. I feed the line through the guides and tie on one of my new inventions, purple this time. The rain is pounding now and will remain so for the next hour. I peer across theriver looking for the slightest rip made from a submerged rock some eighty feet away. The rod is loaded with its double spey cast and I punch out line to the designated lye. The first cast is always the best for me as its been a week since my last and I always enjoy a good cast. I look down river, following my line, mending it as needed and glance to where I'd like to fish later on in the day. At the end of my swing I begin my step down river, strip line in, in a rhythm that I create and load the rod again for another cast. It all feels so good to be here. The mosses on the trees across the river are an unusual burnt orange and brown hue. There are a few rust colored patches mixed in here and there too. Everything is so contrasted with the dull winter colors of grey, green, blue, brown and gold. I strip in my line again and Yank! yank! three strips in and I've got a fish on! I lift the rod and see a Dolly of about 18" thrashing at the end of my line. This is "ok" I think, as its only my second cast of the day. I release the fish back into its river and continue moving down stream. Drifting off into my day dream state, a half hour of swinging flies passes before I'm struck again. I lift the rod to see another dolly thrashing about and its voracious appetite for the fly I'm using, jostles me from my calm. Thinking,"great" two for two, these new flies get some attention, now it's timefor a steelie. I finish my first run with two dolly's and no metal, but I'm content with the fly pattern I've chosen. Moving down stream, I pick up oddly colors stones that seem so out of place on this river bed, it makes me wonder how far away it originated to get here.
Stepping into the second run of the day is a bit tricky. I've tied on a new flyin the same pattern with a different color scheme. The current is swift on river left but only knee deep and I need to make it to the center,where a small island sits just below the surface. The far side of the river has a nice deep slot that can be seen from a mile away. Its coloration is a deep glacial green with a slight milky tone mixed in and is coaxing me to wet a fly there. "God, there should be something inthere" is all I can think as I wade across and down the swift current. Upon reaching my island destination, I try to remain squatted down so as not to spook any fish that may be laying close to the bank on the first couple casts. My first cast is short and quarters well down stream, landing just this side of a small seam. I wait for the arm wrenching yank of a metal head, but no. Cast two, a little further down and swinging beautifully, nada. Cast three, I stand up for this one as itsa bit further down still and I don't feel as though my presence will spook any creatures below. Swing....Yank, yank!! No line leaves my reel and I know its another dolly. I snap off a handful of pictures for eachfish before I release them back to their water world. I do enjoy the color patterns of these fish, with the white under belly, brown speckeld body, contrasted with vibrant red spots. They blend in perfectly with the river bottom. The day continues on and on in this fashion. The rain is relentless and my sleeves have wicked up moisture all the way to my elbows. With all the rain that has fallen today, I take notice at the slight color change in the river and change my fly again for the last run of the day. Kicking stones to warm up my feet for my hike backup stream, I pause to look at an over turned stump that lays partially submurged along the river shore. What awesome currents it must of taken to dislodge this tree and float it down to where it resides now. I step into the last run of a six hour day, to swing a dozen casts before I head in. I'm yet to get a hit in this run this winter and wonder to myself if it even holds fish. Step, cast, swing, step, cast, swing...nuthin. "Ok, make one good last cast and call it a day" I thinkto myself. I step, load the 13 footer and punch out one last good one,down and across. It settles into its routine and near the end of its swing I begin to step out of the river. Ankle deep and two steps from shore...Yank, yank! I turn to see what the commotion is, as I wasn't paying attention while walking out. Steelie? this one is taking line finally! I see a good size tail flip down on the dimly lit river and hope for the winter metal I've been waiting for all day. The fish comes to the bank shortly after and again its another dolly, this one being the biggest of about 24". I release her back into the wild and call ita day that I wont soon forget.