I anticipated finding as many fish on my second day on the Beaver as I had on the first day with my guide. The reality is that it’s always different when you’re an amateur by yourself. I waited until the “heat” of the day to leave my campsite and venture over to the river. To be honest, it had as much to do with sleeping in and enjoying my morning as it did with the best time of the day to fish in the early spring. The stretch of land I intended to fish was actually private land but I was told the landowner didn’t mind the public fishing on his property. In the back of my mind I must say I am a bit trepidatious about venturing onto private property imagining being chased with a gun pointed at me. Of course, this was not the case.
I don’t think I saw any land in Utah that wasn’t surrounded by barbed wire fences and this was no exception. In strategic places, there is ladder-type contraption that allows you to get over the barbed wire and I happenstanced on one. I walked for 10 minutes or so until I found a place where I could get down the steep banks to the river.
I found myself significantly downstream from the dam, which meant that the flow was less hearty. I started wading upstream hoping to find deeper water and more spots where I might find a fish. The thickets next to the stream were significant and entangled my line several times. I expected to be alone for the day, but I was surprised when I heard some voices upriver from me. As it turns out my company was a bunch of late teens who were higher than kites and very into the “f” word. It didn’t take me but a minute to decide to turn around and go back downstream.
I knew the fishing would be more difficult, especially due to these last few few years of drought. As it turns out, the biggest problem did not turn out to be finding fishing holes but rather navigating through the downed branches and river soil that was like quicksand. In fact, many of the rivers in southern Utah have this quicksand-like problem. (More about that in a future post.)
I cast to some snarly spots and was fairly successful in landing my fly in opportune spots. I had some lightning hits and lost a couple flies but no success. Late in the afternoon feeling some pressure to leave some time to get back to my car, I spotted one last little waterfall with a fairly deep hole after it. I decided to put a little weight on my line and throw an egg pattern. After a few casts I noticed a flash of white but still no hooks. I couldn’t gauge the depth of the hole but decided that perhaps I should try taking the weight off my line and tying on a bead-head nymph. The bead on the fly serves as a weight and I thought it might more precisely imitate the depth of the insects in the water column. I knew I had to do the perfect cast so as not to get tangled. Remarkably I did and then STRIKE! I had a fish on. As it turns out, it was a very small rainbow, but it didn’t matter. I quickly released it back to its home and found myself feeling pretty proud. I had started to understand the multitude of factors that need to come together to be understand life on a river. Don’t worry this won’t go to my head. I have a lot more to learn…