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Adventure

In late April I checked on the fish down in the Maurepas Swamp. I was hoping to run into some sacalait or maybe a choupique on the fly. I think I was a bit late in the year for any sacalait action and unfortunately I didn’t come across any choupique either, but I had decent action on the local sunfish. It wasn’t as hot as the last time I was down there, but I was happy to have fished it this year while the irises were in bloom and prior to Hurricane Ida’s arrival.

Redear sunfish
Bluegill
Largemouth bass
Warmouth (Goggle-eye)

It was a nice little mixed bag, which tends to happen in the swamp, and a nice day on the water before a front rolled through. That’s what forced me off the water, the rain moved in and it stormed a good bit as I was loading the kayak.

I spent a weekend fly fishing Bayou Fountain way back in January looking for a largemouth bass upgrade for last year’s Massey’s/BCKFC CPR kayak tourney(it actually ran through February of this year). The fishing was dreadfully slow, but I was able to land a largemouth that was incrementally longer than my previous one. This proved to be very crucial when it was all said and done as I ended up tying Chuck Miller in points, but I held the tiebreak for overall length which gave me the win.

This was the first trip in what would become a fun year in fly fishing for me. I’ve covered some trips from the year in posts already, but I’ll continue to detail it here soon. I’ve caught more species this year than any in the past and it has been a blast tracking them down.

Whenever I research a slam trip like this I make sure to have backup options for each species in mind for just this type of situation. If I wanted to complete the Arizona wild trout challenge I needed to catch a brook trout and I was down to my last afternoon/evening to do it. Insert your clever sports cliché here. I knew of three creeks with brook trout in Arizona, two in the White Mountains, one on the Mogollon Rim. I’m sure there are several more, but in my research I only came across three. No one publicizes small streams, even ones with invasive species, so it’s up to me to try and develop intel with the help of local knowledge or books, other publications, and things I come across online.

Blake and I drove a couple hours from the Whites to the Rim to a lake outlet stream that I had heard held brook trout. After striking out twice this was last my chance so I took the lead on the creek. This creek was unlike any other we’d come across thus far on our trip. It was a narrow creek, one you could jump across in spots, but it held deep, still tannic water so you couldn’t see the bottom where it was deepest due to it being so dark. It was full of submerged vegetation too and really seemed like a good place for any coldwater fish species to live.

I started with a dry-dropper rig and really worked the spots faster than I should have been as Blake ended up catching a brook trout in a likely looking spot behind me.

It had come out from under a rock and hit the dropper nymph. I continued to cover water ahead of him at a faster pace than I should have, throwing a rig I probably shouldn’t have been. I was too focused on targeting the one dumb fish that every stream has, you cover enough water and you find him. Every once in a while I’d see a fish holding near the bottom, but they never took interest in my offering. After some time a young lady fly angler came by on the adjacent trail heading downstream of us. I took the opportunity to gather some much needed intel and switched up my rig after speaking with her. She convinced me to go small streamer and the closest thing I had was a tungsten jig bugger that my local Orvis in Baton Rouge always has in stock. I use it a lot for the bass and sunfish at home, it’s a good all purpose fly. The first or second hole I dropped it in and starting swimming along a weed edge I feel the rod come tight.

It was a damn brown trout. A gorgeous one, but these things are apparently like cockroaches in Arizona. I sent him back along his way and kept at it. I was looking for the obvious spots and fishing them hard. After Blake’s fish came from under a big boulder I had structure in mind.

Eventually I was able to swim the fly by a submerged log and out came the brook trout I was looking for. After a quick pic and a sigh of relief I realized just how far ahead of Blake I was and started trekking my way back toward him.

After I met back up with Blake that same young lady fly angler came walking back by. I thanked her for her help and I’m sure she thought I was completely nuts, but I had blinders on before talking to her and she showed me the light! With daylight fading we made our way back to the vehicle and continued on up to Payson. In Payson we found a hotel, had a proper Mexican meal, and found a local IPA worthy enough to count as a trip capper.