The Nunya is a difficult river to float. First of all there are few places to launch a boat and most launches aren’t boat launches at all. They are simply roadside pull offs with steep banks to the river. While launching, your boat it could easily escape you and literally catapult off a cliff or slide down a ravine, hit a rock and splinter into a million pieces. Luckily, today neither happened to us.
It’s peak runoff right now. That means that most the rivers in our area are high and muddy from snow melt. However, the unique thing about the Nunya is that although extremely high, it nearly always flows clear. High barely described it today. The river was roaring and at least two feet swollen above its banks. Dawes, a veteran oarsman with years of guiding experience, thankfully took the oars first. Dawes navigated us through a gnarly rock garden to start things and although I’m sure I’d of made it through, I was glad I didn’t have too. I just threw out two salmon fly dries and mended them like a mad fly fisherman. JY was in the front of the boat doing the same. Even keeping your fly close to the bank where fish will likely hold in such conditions was difficult.
It didn’t take us long to realize that we weren’t going to see much in the way of a salmon fly hatch. There were no big bugs flying around and few nymph shucks along the bank. We hoped that perhaps as we travelled downstream we might run into them but never did. What we did find were heaps of salmon fly nymphs. Every single rock you turned over had at least one salmon fly nymph crawling on it. The hatch is just about to occur.
The three of us remained too stubborn to put on a stonefly nymph. All we could do was dream about the fish hitting our two-inch long dry flies as we drifted them along the banks. Fortunately a few fish did eat them. In fact, just enough to keep us entertained. Perhaps they remember these large insects from last year or maybe they have seen a few that hatched in the last few days. Either way, it was enough action to keep us trying and we caught a surprisingly good bunch of rainbows including some nice ones.
Though we were catching some fish on the dries, Dawes couldn’t resist just seeing how well a nymph would do. The truth of the matter is that when the Nunya is truly on, you can’t keep the fish off your fly. Dawes dropped a nymph called the turd below his big dry and made a cast. Literally on his first drift he landed a small rainbow. The nymph was the ticket. Dawes and JY fished out the turd for the last mile of our float and absolutely crushed the fish.
Neither of us were disappointed that we didn’t’ fish a nymph sooner. We caught plenty of rainbows. Not only that, it was a gorgeous day. It has rained almost every day for over a month. Today was in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky. Best of all, we left the waders behind and although the river was icy cold, it was our first day of wet-wading. What a great first float of the year!