A last minute weather check before leaving the house at 5:15 am reported Columbia being 77 degrees with 97 percent humidity. At the river the early morning air had a definite rain forest feel to it that was not at all uncomfortable. A couple anglers not of our group were already in the parking lot, which had me wondering how crowded the river might get. The recent report of Copper Head snakes complete with menacing pictures on the Backwater Angler home page had me thinking it might give some anglers pause, and perhaps it did some, but early morning traffic soon settled the question about whether we would have plenty of company on the river.
By 6:30 all were present, Will Amland, Bob Dietz, Ken Bowyer, John Benoit, Bob Muehlenkamp, and Tom Rhatigan. The question immediately came up whether we would see any Trico’s if we quit so early around 10:00 to 10:30, or if we should hang out in the heat to see if the swarms appeared, but the question was quickly settled in favor of an early lunch and air-conditioning.
I really enjoy the smell of a summertime river, they always smell sweet to me, and on the Gunpowder that sweetness mingles with pockets of pungent wet granite reminiscent of an old cellar. The flow was good, over 80 cfs and cold. Warm air mixing with the cold surface brought swirling shrouds of mist thick enough to obscure my drift and enveloped me in a refreshing chill. Wading by the Haiku rock I stopped to take a picture and wondered if the mysterious identity of the author, H B, has ever been solved.
Beetles and Ants had been the talk in parking lot, Will and I settled in the first good run to ply ours. We leapfrogged each other for an hour drifting them close to the bank, hitting the pockets down and through riffles without a strike. After the low flows of the previous week I thought the fish would be eager to feed and decided maybe a nymph in the deeper water, safe from predators above, might work. Abandoning top water flies, I first changed to a beadhead Prince Nymph that drew no strikes, then tied on a Pink San Juan worm and adjusted the weight till it bounced across the bottom. On the second cast my strike indicator made a little stab against the current. As I raised the rod a six inch brown wriggled up out of the depths. Looking upstream I could see and angler above Will, so I backtracked fishing the same water that brought me up. Between there and the bridge the Pink San Juan hooked nine more browns between six and ten inches bringing eight to hand. Along the way I came across Tom who found a good fourteen inch fish holding in front of a large rock he was standing on. He said, as he changed flies, they drew looks but no strikes; so I gave him a Pink worm and wished him luck before pushing on.
Bob Dietz, after deciding the Falls Road section looked a little too crowded for him, left us to it opting for Bunker Hill. There, he found success on top, with first a Renegade then an Ant, both taking a pair of browns. It was a quick outing, just three hours on the river, but did provide a very pleasant interlude to the recent low flows and hot humid weather. Conversation around the parking area as we pulled off our waders and broke down rods proved that most found the fishing slow. Ken reported seeing a couple male Trico’s but no accompanying mating swarm. Rods and gear put away, we headed to a nearby Inn for cold drinks and lunch.