FIRST LIGHT - PART 2
Part 2 of 2
Since it’s 800 yards from the #23 pool up to the #28 pool, I grab the trout rod, a streamer wallet and I hop into the pickup.
I have a chance to scan the river which runs alongside the regional highway. I hadn’t seen the river on the drive in as it was dark, but in the growing light I can make out the sand bar on the #27. From the length and width of the bar, I can tell that the river is really low, even for the mid summer season.
I pull into the parking lot on the #28. There are two other pickup in the lot, but I know that they are the vehicles of some of the locals who have hiked in to a trout lake on the other side of the river.
I have a mental flash of Deanna as this is the same place she wet a line for the very time on our home waters back in 2006.
The salmon have arrived for the season. A small population will come in over the month of August, but for the most part, the main run have arrived and has set up in the various runs and pools, … usually a short distance downstream from their spawning beds. A distinct advantage on the Ste-Marguerite River is that there are redds up and down the river. Sure, there are more spawning beds in the upper reaches, but there are also several scattered along the lower sections. This means that during the entire summer, salmon can be found holed up in all of the zones.
I know (believe) that there are salmon in the main current of the run, but since I’m really only interested in a trout now, I skip the formalities and quietly walk to the base of the rapids.
Here, the run empties out into a very large pool. It is deep and calm. A feeder stream empties into the pool on the near side helping the water temperature to hold at a reasonable level even in the middle of the summer. It is a short stream; spring fed at its source it is 5 degrees colder than the river proper. The richly oxygenated water coming out of the cool stream makes for a dandy holding pool for trout.
I strip several yards of line off of the spool and lay down a streamer swing. I let the fly swing towards me in the current about 3 feet upstream of the pool, … just in case some nice trout are holding high in the pool. … No luck.
On the next cast, there isn’t enough current to properly swing the fly so I strip off 60 feet of line and lay the cast down along the head of the pool. The very instant the fly touches the surface I start a panic strip, popping and gurgling the fly straight across the weak current back towards me. No luck.
I already have enough line out for the medium weight rod with a fairly heavy fly so I pickup and recast about 3 feet to the left and start the same retrieve. On the first strip I see a boil under the fly. I stop!
The fly sinks an inch or two and I give one quick 12 inch strip. BANG!
In a boil the line is going tight and line is feeding out the guides.
The take is too strong to be a small juvenile trout. It’s too early in the season anyway for them to be here. It must be a spawner so I will do this quickly. Since the line has been peeling off the spool I can fight from the reel. If there had been slack, I wouldn’t have bothered and just simply stripped in line.
Brook trout here don’t run like a salmon and the don’t jump like a Rainbow. Instead they like to pull hard in one direction or another, often diving deep for cover on the bottom or against a bank.
A long rod helps me here to keep side pressure on the fish and control a bit his movements. Within 5 or 10 minutes I have him at hand. I could have probably pulled harder, but I could have easily broken off. Since I only have a limited supply of these Muddler’s in the truck and I’ll be on the river for a week, I don’t feel like losing a fly so early!
It’s a magnificent specimen: A big Buck, … almost 24 inches. He is already starting to develop a keep. I retrieve the barbless fly with a flick of the wrist. The fish doesn’t even come out of the water and he dives back to the depths.
I spool up the rest of the line and the leader. It’s time to go wake up Dany so we can have a proper breakfast. The sun is starting to peep around the corner of the bluff. Daylight will soon be streaming into the valley. The trough isn’t supposed to roll in before mid afternoon.
Sunshine, dry flies and friends. The day is shaping up to be just dandy!
All I have to do now is remember where I left my coffee cup.