I spent Monday rigging rods, packing camping gear and organizing the boat. That evening I met Granny at the grocery and we loaded the coolers with plenty of good food, beer and ice. The drive to the Lower Nunya was long and hot. I drive too fast for the windows to be down and our air conditioner has been broken since 1994. Once there we downed some food and crashed out hard in the back of the rig.
Tuesday morning we were pumped so at the first glimmer of daylight we were up and making coffee. The truth of the matter is the mosquitoes don’t usually get up till sunrise so in order to enjoy coffee it must be made and drank by sunrise. Then just as the sun rises and hoards of mosquitoes attack, we push the boat off and begin the two day 30 mile float.
Granny’s greatest enjoyment comes from fishing huge dry flies from the front of a boat. She is by far the finest dry fly boat angler I’ve ever seen (I’ve seen a few) When chucking two flies spread five feet apart (a Currier method), she can literally land thepoint fly ¼” off the bank and the dropper upstream of it about a foot off the bank. Then she can float and twitch them like that for more than twenty feet. All the time they drift she can sip coffee or slug some beer, spot an eagle a mile away or kill not one, but two horseflies at a time before getting bit. And she rarely misses a strike!
Granny began working her magic with two largered winged Chernobyl ants. It’s been nine months since she trout fished from the boat and sure enough she missed the first strike of the day. The miss surprised me like the strike surprised her but from then on the fish paid dearly. It wasn’t a minute later where with here coffee mug in her left hand and the rod and line tight in her right hand, a quality brown indulged. She lifted the rod and set him perfect. As the brown screamed downstream with line zinging under her trigger finger, she slammed the rest of her coffee, carefully put her mug down and just as the fish hit the reel began fighting the fish with two hands. Within a minute Granny was netting a brown trout that would take the average angler five minutes to land. Then in a blink of an eye she slid the barbless hook out and the brown took off not even realizing he’d been caught.
When fishing big dry flies we use very heavy tippet. I rarely go lighter than 0X. Yes you heard me correct, 0X. We have several reasons. Big dry flies are famous for twisting lighter tippets while false casting. The heavier the tippet the less likely you will get twist. Therefore, I fish at least 2X. Then figure in the twitch factor and you realize these trout have no time to study your offerings. If you twitch the fly properly to look like a natural swimming stonefly, the trout either have to eat it or lose it. They usually chose to eat it. They don’t have time to see tippet. That’s why we drop even further to 0X. Best of all, 0X allows you to land a fish so fast that they use little of their energy to fight but rather save it for their release. In hot summer months it’s crucial to land and release fish fast.
Day one for us was outstanding. We caught approximately 15 good fish. I’d say we even had one monster that was 20”. All but two were browns. Granny managed one spectacular rainbow that escaped the net just before I flicked the pic. And I landed a nice cutthroat. Nearly all these fish came on the Chernobyl rig while I landed two browns on the screamer streamer.
Our campsite couldn’t have been better. We found a spot sheltered by cottonwood trees yet the area still had a steady breeze which helped keep down the mosquitoes. Our view of the mountains and buttes was perfect and best of all; we found a flat soft spot in the tall grass to set up our tent. This little gem was about 10 feet from the banks of the Nunya. And would you believe, after dinner there was a rusty spinner fall that brought out stacks of rising browns. We took turns catching a few right in front of our tent!
It was a grizzly bear free night around camp. I can’t tell you how much I like grizzly free nights when sleeping in the tent. We definitely had few visitors but the ones I saw included a nice mule deer doe and a yearling moose. The moose always annoy us because they like to trip on our tent ropes – kind of like I often do after two glasses of red before bed! It was a cold morning. Shocking really when you think about how hot the days get. Therefore, we didn’t get up as early as normal. We waited for the sun to rise and warm things a bit. Of course, we drank coffee soaked in Deep Woods Off in order to conserve our blood from mosquitoes. We pushed the boat off at a lazy 8:30 and Granny started pounding the banks with her dry fly rig.
Wednesday was slow to say the least. We had lots of river miles to cover so we drifted most of the day with few stops. In this lower part of the Nunya, several tributaries enter adding heaps of water. Although most were clear, one of the major entering rivers was high and off color. We’re not sure if there was a thunderstorm upstream Tuesday night or if there’s a heap of snow hidden in its headwaters. The bottom line is, this tributary pretty much wiped out our fishing after we passed it.
We also experienced some high wind. You know the wind doesn’t bother me for the most part, but when rowing a heavy boat full of camping gear for two days, it can mess you up. And sure enough it did. In fact it got so bad, we had whitecaps blowing upstream so strong that even with the current it was hard for me to row downstream and keep Granny in range of the banks to catch fish.
Despite the challenges from Mother Nature, today topped off one of our favorite weekends of the year. We squeaked out five good trout. Four were quality browns and Granny got a cutty. As always we saw plenty of wildlife. Worth mentioning was this enormous bull moose that was an incredible sight with his antlers dressed in full velvet. He will be a true beast by fall.
I’m not sure if I’ll sneak out again this week. I’m really enjoying my art right now and preparing for an art show at theWyoming Gallery next Friday August 5th. But you never know so keep an eye!