by Les Albjerg
Winter on the South Fork
It was a beautiful day on the South Fork of the Boise River yesterday. Since the South Fork is a well known stream, I have no qualms naming the stream. It is my closest blue ribbon stream and it is pressured. It is artificial lures, one hook, barbless. Catch and release this time of the year on Rainbows. Rainbows are the only trout in the South Fork plus Mountain Whitefish. It has prolific hatches.
The fish were lethargic yesterday. The water was too cold. The normal set-up for winter fishing is an egg dropper and a stonefly above that. As Geoff and I were talking as we drove to the stream the light bulb went off in my head, and I decided to do something different. I have been spin fishing with stuff over on the Finesse-Fishing site, and I had C'ultiva JH-85 .7 gram Ajing Jigs with me and Micro Finesse Anisoptera bodies. It wasn't quite a "one fly" day. I just had to fish the Diawa .4 gram Vega spoons as well. I fished them for a half hour with no success.
The rod used was the Suntech Fine Power NP 56. I had the Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63 with me and the Suntech TenkaraBum 40 with me as well. I never needed the extra length of the Sawanobori or the need to go shorter with the TenkaraBum 40. I have experienced the "Fine" of the Fine Power fishing the Ultralight Worm Fishing method. Today, I experienced the "Power" side.
As I was rigging up, I was putting on my favorite 6.5x tippet material and then remembered what Chris' friend Coach said about the Fine Power, with respect to the size of fish that can be caught, " Anything you can catch with 5X tippet." So, I put on 5x. Too bad I didn't think about the Ajing hooks. Ajing are a saltwater fish in Japan that may get to 15 inches if they are lucky! I have caught lots of trout and perch up to 17 inches with these jigs. However, there are big trout in the South Fork.
I was working the third seam and all of a sudden I had a very big fish on. There wasn't a "tap - tap". There was a massive tug of the Fine Power and it was singing right away! The battle was on. He ran toward the other bank and the Fine Power held him as I dropped it to the left to turn him. There was enough power to turn him. Then he went to the bottom behind a rock, and I was able to keep him from wrapping around it! About 10 minutes into the fight he was coming in. I had him close. He was the biggest trout I have ever caught on a fix line rod. He was beautiful, bright, colorful in the bright sunlight. I know he was well over 20 inches. I had a gut feeling there was one more run left and I was prepared. It came at about 3 feet, and he was off the hook! I didn't know whether to cry or laugh! I pulled in the jig, and the hook had straightened out. The Ajing hooks were not meant for big trout. The real bummer is I had tied up tungsten beadheads on size 8 heavy duty nymph hooks for using the Anisoptera bodies.
I moved to the next hole, and Geoff, my friend who enjoys watching me fish fixed line spotted a trout that he knew I could reach with my Fine Power. I dropped the new rig right in front of the trout, and caught the only fish of the day that the four of us in our group landed. It wasn't a great day of catching fish, but it was a great day of fishing being out in the fresh air. Seeing the wonders of nature - a time of renewal and fellowship with friends. I had 5 other fish on for a very short amount of time. They bit the tails off my anisoptera bodies!
Give the Ajing set-up a try if you don't have fish over 20 inches. If you want an awesome rod, give the Suntech Fine Power a good look! It is now my favorite rod. It has power and finesse. What more can you ask for? I fished it one handed 95 percent of the day, with total control. As a two hander, it is an ultra-light.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma