Written by Chris Kurnik with Western Trout Wrangler
Beginning around the end of January this year, there has been a change in the river. Big fish here on the Truckee River are no longer residing in the mysterious unfishable depths, but instead have migrated to more fishable waters, have been holding along runs in large quantities, and have begun aggressively feeding.
This New Year began the same the last one had stagnantly ended; painfully slow fishing aside from an occasional grab from a rainbow or a brown, cold water temperatures, and minimal hatches. When the bugs were out it seemed the fish weren’t and catching one mediocre fish in a days work felt like a good day. This pattern would occasionally waiver and on a warm cloudy day you might hope to get two grabs instead of one, but this humbling kind fishing still seemed more like a time for reflection as well as practicing casts and drifts as opposed to hunting down the finicky Truckee river trout. Suddenly, however, it all changed.
I went to the river on a hopeful cloudy day and meandered my way down to a run that had skunked me recently before, again the water looked to pristine to pass up, so I dropped my line in. Two casts later my indicator dropped just as it had done for weeks on logs and rocks and I lackadaisically set the hook, the suddenly the water erupted as if there were a submerged volcano and before I knew it line was peeling off my reel like rubber on a shredding tire. The next think I knew my reel was overspun, much resembling my frazzled and dumbfounded emotions, and it was all I could do to keep this fish from breaking off. I managed to continue to fight the fish and reorganize my line and 7 minutes later I had a 5 # bow in my net. I snapped a photo, let him go, and with shaking legs stumbled back up to the run for another drift. First cast back into this run and, BOOM, another monster take and fish on. I was more prepared for this one and quickly had him on the reel. There were only a few drifts that day where my flies weren’t being bombarded by fleshy white mouths, and in a little over an hour I had landed six fish, four of them over 20”. When I left that day I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I was to have a day like that.
The excitement from that day lingered in my mind like a pretty girl in a teenage boy’s, and I had to get back to the river as soon as possible. The next day I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t going to catch in order to avoid disappointment, but despite my efforts I was still imagining having another day for the books. Fortunately, the next day produced another handful of fantastic fish. This pattern has continued, and in the last two weeks all my buddies and myself have caught multiple bows around 24”, as well as countless more above 20”, not to mention some of the absolute toads that have broken off or shaken us. In the past week I have seen some of the biggest fish I have ever seen in a river, the kind that make you not want to go swimming in the summer. I only wish that I will be lucky enough to hold one like that in front of the camera. Thanks for reading.