Remember that place where you went to fish as a kid that no matter the weather or time of day always produced fish?
My special fishing hole when I was a kid was along the stream below the family cabin in the Bighorn Mountains. A wide bend in the creek filled with a series of deep pools around the outer bank was my trophy hole; it was also my childhood boundary for fishing without adult supervision when visiting the cabin.
No matter where I began fishing on the stream I would always finish by casting my fly along the placid waters of the bend. Its glass smooth surface and occasional deep hole (often with an ancient tree trunk buried deep within it) always hid brook, rainbow, and the occasional brown trout. I never left the stream without a fish in my creel if my patience held out.
Returning to my favorite childhood fishing hole after a decade-long absence, I found it changed from the vision of a trout haven pictured in my mind's eye. Seasonal high-flows had reshaped the stream above the bend in the creek, turning it into a warm and shallow backwater filled with thick mats of algae.
This last winter was one of the worst (or best depending on how you judge such things) we've had in thirty years. This year's runoff was powered by an immense snow-pack that sent sping floodwaters ripping off the mountain. This last weekend was my first trip to the family cabin and I found the creek running high for this time of year, but I also found my childhood fishing hole in the bend of the creek returned to life. The snowmelt waters scoured the algae from the cobble and deepened portions of the stream beginning to fill with silt and sand. For a few days the hole returned to its childhood glory.
By the end of the trip the fate of the hole was evident. Watching the high water visibly receding it became obvious that the coming summer low flows are going to return the bend to its dreary backwater status.
Interested in stories about trout streams or fly fishing? My recent book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation, is chock full of 'em. Check it out!
This blog was posted on the original Conservation Angler blogger page on 6/27/2017 and has been slightly updated for posting here.
Until next time,