A Fishing Report from a Pro!

I had just had a major day on the Kennebec river with my grandson Jackson…as per below:

…some 6 or 7 hours standing in thigh deep 60º water…wading wet…sunny and warm…felt good until the last hour, when a thunderstorm blew in and cut things short by an hour or so…suddenly it was too dark and too cold, not to mention windy…then again, maybe we missed the best part…my grandson Jackson, 17, was about 20 yards upstream of me and we threw topwater caddis and the Parachute Adams at them all afternoon…very gradually coming out with a hard but spectacular day…

My landlocked salmon, at about 20 inches, might have won honors for fish of the day, but Jackson had one of those too. The cock fish was brilliant silver and solid, neither a football nor a string bean…a perfectly proportioned athlete of a salmon…I should have photographed him but he was starting to look a little weak and wobbly as I had some trouble bringing him to hand and releasing the hook-jawed rocket…

Rises were sporadic, but caddis were hatching out copiously and, though there were some lulls, we eventually did well through a combination of saturation and technique. We figured we probably made around 2000 casts each, at least four a minute, depending on the length of the drift…

Jackson landed around a dozen fish and hooked up about 20 times…one hook-up per 100 casts…I landed two and hooked up four times…hmmm one hook-up per 500 casts…and we were fishing identical rigs, pretty much…

How to explain this:

Well, Jax has better eyesight, way better eyesight…and I think he is seeing stuff (like drag) that I am not. His fly alights on the flow and if it drags he is up and out immediately and correcting on the next cast…simple as that…so he threw 1500 perfect presentations and I threw about half that, maybe less…

Jax also got onto and stuck with his Parachute Adams early on…lost a few but kept with it…a fly he could see well and that seemed to do the trick in the caddis hatch…I tried some caddis flies along with the Parachute Adams. In retrospect I should have tied on a pair of PAs and stuck with them….or maybe even a brace of bivisible spiders…

What else? Jax was farther up the pool and the water around his feet was not as fast as mine. In fact, up at the top he had an eddy where he was casting upstream but down flow…and got a good brookie on that angle, parked in there under the eddy. But anyway, he had less drag to deal with…and hardly ever tried to cast upstream, a big drag producer. He was casting at 90º to the flow, rarely much farther upstream, and getting short but perfect drag-free drifts with about eight feet of 5X tippet…long and loose…6X might have done even better, but Jackson had one burly salmon break him off on the 5X…begging the perennial question: to move the fish or to land him? For me, always the former…

The prevailing upstream wind was also a factor, making the tippet curve upstream as it landed on the water, leaving the fly line downstream in faster water and drag prone. Jackson seemed to be doing a better job of keeping his loop tight and low and his drifts short.

We agreed on the perfect cast: the one that ends with the line thudding against the reel as the cast stops in mid-air, shaking the last drops of moisture out of the fly or flies, dropping the fly and dropper loose on the flow, preferably a flat place on the fastest thread or center of the current, so the fly moves faster then the loose leader around it: and bang!

Anyway…so it goes…no lunkers, no three-to-five pounders, but plenty of action (for Jackson anyway)…for me it was a bit slower.

Everyone else we saw was fishing with bobbers and trying to bounce nymphs along the bottom, presumably because they saw no, or not many, rises on the surface. It’s hard to understand. For me, that kind of fishing would be an effective part of purgatory, or as a direct threat of straight-on hell: You are hereby condemned to fishing on beautiful trout streams using only sink tip fly lines and nymphs and bobbers for the rest of eternity. If they were slaying them that way, I’d be more interested; but they weren’t.

Of the 20 or so fly fishers who came through or around (on the other side, the east side, with the sun in their eyes) the Secret Pool during the course of the afternoon, only a couple were seen releasing small landlocked salmon. The guy at the head of the pool when we got there soon gave up after Jackson started yanking trout out of the run just down below him. He was using some crazy bobber rig that looked like a yellow badminton bird that at one point got away from him and floated down to Jackson, who despite the guy saying “just keep it, or leave it on a rock there” dutifully retrieved it for him.

So it went: our first afternoon on the famous Secret Pool.


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