Ahhh, back on the road again, exploring new waters and absorbing the grandeur and brilliance of the new places I visit. Along for the ride with me for a bit is none other than Jordan Romney: guide, conservationist, fellow fly fishing enthusiast and undoubtedly one of my favorite people to go fishing with.
I drive through the night and we arrive in the early hours of the morning at a river I had never heard of, and one which I have been sworn into secrecy not to share; the river who’s name we shall not speak. All I can glean through the darkness of the night are steep canyon walls silhouetted against the starry sky and the sound of a river nearby. Its late and the moon has already set; camp is quickly thrown together for a few hours of sleep before the sun rises and it is time to fish.
I awake to the sound of birds and bright light pouring through my tent. I open the flap and am momentarily rendered speechless. It’s as though I have been transported to a different dimension. I know we had headed north but the landscape brings to mind the canyons and shearing rock formations of New Mexico or Arizona. Red earth, steep canyon, a brilliant sunrise and amazing rock formations carved into the canyon meet my gaze and astound my still sleepy thoughts.
The savage desert beauty is still assaulting my senses when it occurs to me that I’m going to be fishing in a desert canyon. Fishing in a desert? Ok, sure, I’m game; there is always a first time for everything. As we grab our gear and head down to the river I’m not sure what to expect. And then I see it; the river.
I feast my eyes upon a plethora of noses slurping bugs off the surface. I am immediately taken aback at the size of these fish! Then I see the way the fish swing their tails out when they eat and I know not only are these big fish; these are big browns.
It turns out these fish are gorging on Tricos, scientific name Tricorythodes, which are a small crawler mayfly. In my experience, Trico hatches are a pain in the ass; trout get picky and the tippet you must use (6x-7x) can be the difference between landing a fish or breaking it off. Despite the frustration of the Trico hatch (aka the white winged curse), I still catch a fish on a beetle. Ha, take that Tricos’.
The hatch is over by around 10 am, and then the fishing becomes more versatile. While at this river we caught fish on terrestrials (ants, hoppers and beetles), PMD’s (late afternoon hatch), and various nymphs. Different from fishing most rivers in California, all the fish I caught were good-sized browns. Not a single rainbow to be had. Also not a small fish to be had.
I can’t believe a place like this exists: the abrupt, jutting architecture of the canyon walls, the vivid colors of the landscape and insane fishing. It’s juxtaposing contrast of cold water and hot dry air along with the astounding scenery is the stuff of fly fishing dreams.
Jordan, thank you for sharing this amazing spot with me; thanks for also putting up with me two energy drinks deep and then exhausted the next day after a crazy long drive. Such a trooper 🙂