Wardens & Whitefish

“Can I get you to come over here for a minute?”

This is what the game warden called out over the river’s white-noise as he motioned I move towards him.  I exhaled, reeled my fly in, and began to navigate some shallow but quick water between us.  After producing my license he made an effort to be pleasant and I made an effort to be compliant.  I should mention that I deeply appreciate and respect what wardens do; protect our natural resources, prevent the abuse of our wildlife, and crack down on illegal activity.  It’s $61,620 well spent.  The difference however, between a warden and say, a traffic officer, is that you typically have to do something wrong before you end up face-to-face.

This was my third visit from the warden in the last year.  The first time I watched him pull 4 out of the 5 anglers downstream of me and send them packing, presumably for participating in “Free Fishing Day” four months late.  The second sighting was with my Dad, who eagerly initiated conversation with the warden to discover he had misplaced his license.  Good ol’ technology came through and the warden’s computer in his truck verified my Dad had paid his dues…literally.

As I began to turn from the warden, I was already back to fishing in my mind.  But I had forgotten I wasn’t alone.  You see, this particular day I connected with a great guy that I’ve talked about fishing with for two years.  He sloshed and marched across the water like something was about to attack him sub-surface.  After a couple of seconds I realized he was moving quickly because he was utterly thrilled to show the warden his license.  He kept saying, “I never got to show my license before!”

Just before my visit from the NDOW, I pulled this mountain whitefish out of some slow water.  Trash fish?  More like cash fish.  The bigger ones run hard so it’s fine by me.

I also hadn’t known that despite all of our conversations about sight-fishing, Drew had never actually stuck a fish on the fly rod so I was pleased to get him into 3 or 4 fish.  I could tell Drew was enjoying the outing when over my shoulder I heard, “this is the best day ever!” While he was honing his drifts, I saw some water on the far bank that looked fishy, but the water between us was angry.  Despite unsettled weather I made the haul downstream, across, and back up.  I was convinced I was going to outwork the last guy that fished this stretch, and that would pay dividends.  Instead I only gained the attention of several wee lads.  The one below chased Stefan McLeod’s brick, and the guy below that, a prince nymph.

There are a ton of bugs out.  Yellow stones, crane flies, baetis, and a few caddis.

We’re finally hitting the time of year when time of day is a bigger factor.  Mid-day bite is a lot tougher as the water temps slowly climb.  Unsettled weather gives you some leeway on this it seems. 

Everything I’m reading says now is the time to get out there, because the low snow-pack is going to make fall very technical.  By the way, if you’re reading this and you don’t have a license, I’d recommend remedying that today at Wal-Mart (or better yet), your local sporting good spot.

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