November 17, 2010

golden nugget

The prairie sun has slowly been sinking across the sky, slung low in the horizon, almost lost amongst the tall grass and cottonwoods lining the river bank. This time of year, the sun's angle of incidence is so great that much of the solar energy is dissipated by the time it reaches' the earth's surface. In addition, the low angle of the sun off the horizon makes it extremely difficult to read the water and even tougher to spot fish. Reflection, refraction, it doesn't matter; when the sun is low, the water's surface is cursed with a glare that not even high performance optics can overcome. Unless fishing in gin clear water, this is nymph fishing time.

fly box porn
Equipped with my standard arsenal of flies, I grabbed a dozen of my favorites and tossed them into my day's worth box. I grabbed my rod and hit the bank of the river. Amazing that at this time of year, flows on the Otter Tail can be higher than they were this spring after spring runoff. Here comes the broken record again, but this is just plain ridonkulous. With flows topping 1700 cfs, simply put, the river is unwadeable. I perched up on the bank to try and spot any congregated schools of fish to no avail. Scattered.

rhyacophila sp.
With high water on the banks and water temps near 40°F fish were scarce. Carp were hiding in the flooded grass, smallmouth sought shelter within rocky confines, the only fish that were seemingly active were redhorse. I fished an orange Carp Crack that I had tied on a Korda hook and set to work dredging bottom. I hit bottom a few times and managed to get snagged on a submerged branch. As I pulled the woody debris to the surface, I spotted a few Rhyacophila sp. clinging its branches. I resumed nymphing and manage to foul hook a shorthead and a greater redhorse. I finally got my first take at the end of the drift; a nice golden.

golden redhorse
After scrubbing bottom so many times, I had wondered if my hook was still sharp. The teflon coated finish had rubbed clean where the hook had penetrated so it was possible that the point had dulled a bit. Much to my chagrin, I answered my question a bit later when my fly line caught my shoe while preparing for a cast, driving the fly into my pinky, well past the barb. The hook point had lodged itself all the way to the hook bend with ease, like a hot knife through butter, resulting in possibly the deepest I have ever been hooked. The hook was so sharp that I didn't even feel any pain. Fortunately, I pulled out the deeply embedded hook with ease, as I always make it a point to crimp any barbs at the vise; not for the fish's benefit, but for mine. The bottom line is, those Korda hooks are the sharpest hooks I've ever seen or fished. Impressive.

Some redhorse fish porn to finish off the story:

golden redhorse
golden redhorse
golden redhorse
Redhorse love the rise.