Rocky Creek is one of those sleepers, an easily overlooked stream that secretly gives up some big native fish to those few anglers who are in the know. I have, on occasion, heard rumors about Rocky Creek that told of large white streamers and big bull trout. This is the kind of rumor that you hear just often enough to remember the last time you heard it. "Oh yeah, 'ol Sal told me about that place once," you say as you catalogue the details into some remote part of your brain that compiles and cross references obscure rumors. One day you hear the rumor again and a light turns on in your head. Before you know it you're telling yourself that you have to get up there and angle for some of those bull trout.
So it was on this past Monday that my friend Leonard and I went up to Rocky Creek high on the hopes that we might get into some bull trout. The river was running clear and low, normal for this time of year. We stopped in the middle of a bridge to look down into the water and see if we could spot some bulls. Of course we didn't spot any, they blend in too well with the streambed. We did see some salmon; cohos and a few old chums who looked to have been dead for a week despite the fact that they were still facing into the current barely swimming in place.
We crossed the bridge and drove upstream. I would have liked to have gone up further but we had driven far enough for such a short day and had already found some good looking water. It rained as we strung up our rods. Big drops of water dripped down on us from moss covered tree limbs high overhead. Occasionally the low clouds parted affording us a view of snow covered mountains. This time of year you never seem to be very far from a snowy mountain or two.
The fishing was fair. That is to say that it's better than work and just being outside amongst the mountains and dead salmon is its own reward. I did manage to land a couple of fish. The first one was a seventeen inch bull trout. I caught him out of the head of a pool that I drifted my streamer through. When I felt my fly stop I thought that it had snagged a rock. When the "rock" started moving downstream I knew I had a fish on. He fought like hell, taking line up and down the pool. The second fish I landed was a spawned out coho. I caught him in a shallow slot just off the bank. Though he probably weighed three times more than the first fish he only fought half as much. I guess that being half dead takes the wind out of the 'ol sails.
Leonard did't do as well. He fished as hard as I did with the same sort of fly that I had. Maybe it just wasn't his day. Or maybe I had been lucky to catch my two fish. Who knows? I do know that it would have been better if he did catch something if only so I didn't have to ponder the merrits of skill versus the randomness of blind luck. But I think that Leonard had a good day despite being skunked. I know that my day was better for him being there. I had to brag to someone.