Fall is finally here in Flagstaff and it feels every bit like it. The cold snap we had midweek killed all my tomatoes and turned the leaves on Mount Elden gold. I woke up Saturday to a strong wind and brisk temperatures in the low 40’s. We headed east out of town into the high desert along I-40, usual scenery when searching for Brook Trout right?!
We climbed out of the desert and back into the pine and fir forest. The creek was small and made its way through little meadows surrounded by tall evergreens. The grass that lined the channel was thick and overhung much of the available surface in many locations. I could’t have been more happy to see that with all this grass came grasshoppers! Rows of dry, brown ferns lined the edges of the meadow and were a challenge to remove my fly from when I made the error of getting to near to them. As we walked in we moved past a pile of fresh bear poop with elk droppings all around it, apparently this was a popular trail with the locals.
The first of the long, slow pools in the meadow didn’t yield so much as a glimpse of a fish. However once we finally sighted a brooky hovering midway between the top and the bottom we knew we were in luck. After a poor cast made worse by the wind (so I tell myself) my hopper landed about 6 feet to the left of the fish and I thought I had blown it. Luckily this fish had other ideas, after a seconds pause it charged across the pool and slammed my fly. The fish was off as quick as it was on but we knew that the creeks finned inhabitants were looking up!
Shortly after the first hit more started coming, first from a small but well colored brown trout. As we moved out of the meadow and into the skinny pocket water more fish started to turn up! The canyon was beautiful and filled with maple trees just beginning to turn and roofed by massive old growth conifers. This is truly my favorite type of fishing, scrambling through a thick canyon with no true trails and casting to wild and colorful trout.
The walking along the creek was tough and the fish more than a little spooky. Often a fish could be seen at the tail of a riffle feeding and just as often it would run to its hiding spot before I could ever land a cast in the creek.
Finally a small brooke trout came to hand a little further down creek and in a pool covered in branches and overhead leaves. It was one of those cast where I’m thinking, ‘if I don’t catch a fish I’m going to be stuck’. Luckily this time my fly disappeared in flash and this small and dark colored brook came to hand!
The day continued on and far too soon it began getting dark and we started to head back to the truck. The way back yielded a few fish as well as some turkey feathers, and to Kayla’s delight, a small tree frog!
All in all checking some new water on the first day of fall couldn’t have gone much better. After all, who could complain about using a grasshopper all day?!