The sounds of cascading water roaring over rocks brought out my inner child. I stood there giddy with anticipation and in complete awe of this river. I had finally made it. It began over a year ago as two colleagues had always just referred to this river as the North Fork. The reverence they had when they spoke about this river made me want to fish it for myself. They finally invited me out with them, and this past Saturday was THE day.
I departed my house at 2:30am and after we all rendezvous we found ourselves bouncing along a logging road for 18+ miles deeper and deeper into the woods. Our plan was to hike up the river fishing the holes along the way. The benefits of fishing up stream is that the quarry would have no idea we were there. The gin clear water was running at near perfect conditions, the weather was in the mid 70’s and just ideal, not to hot nor to cold. The challenging aspect of fishing such a small river is how technical it is for casting. To present your lure above the slot so you can have it running just perfect takes excellent timing and casting. The many obstacles from tree limbs to to the rocky snagging conditions requires fishing thoughtfulness. The benefit of such a small river is that if you do snag up it’s fairly easy to wade out and retrieve your lure, then though you have spooked the fish in the hole and it signals time to move along to the next.
One of my colleagues, who really was the one who spearheaded this trip, garnered a nickname on this trip — Obi. His vast fishing knowledge, not only just about techniques of where and how to present runs very deep. If you can wade through the smack talking bullshit there are hidden nuggets to bring back with you. I listened carefully and laughed a lot as the advice was sage and comical. For example “the bite turns on farther upstream as the oxygen levels in the river become more depleted and the fish become more oxygen starved.” This one piece you can judge for yourself. Additionally, Obi saved my bacon on the river. The extremely rocky nature of this river had us wading over slippery rocks and climbing over boulder fields to get to the next hole. As I slipped and fell in one scenario I snapped my rod tip right off. We were only about half way through the trip and I could’ve been done. Nope. Obi reached into the bowels of his tackle box and produced a rod tip and some glue and helped right my wrong and I was fishing again after a nice little Cohiba/whiskey break while the glue dried.
I knew it was going to be a great day when I hooked up on my first cast of the day. We were chucking spinners in copper, sliver and black combinations from a little 6’6″ trout spinning rod with 8lb mono filament line. Given the nature of the North Fork we only did catch & release as to minimize our impact on this ecosystem and to protect the wild brood that lives here. As we hiked along the river we also foraged and ate wild salmon berries that dot along the river’s edge. The more tangy than sweet natured berry was a treat between Clif bars, nuts and jerky.
Other lessons learned for this trip are that the next time I plan to wade and hike upstream I’m going to divide my pack into sections and put each section in its own dry bag; lunch, first aid, electronics and spare clothes. You can count on falling in at least once unless your a spry 20 something. It will also make it easier if each of the bags are different colors so when you need to access one or the other it makes it quick and easy to locate.
This was an epic trip, with each of us landing between 4-6 fish each. Unfortunately I didn’t capture any of the fish caught on camera, so maybe this trip was all just a dream. As for where this river is, I’d love to tell you, but then i’d have to kill you.