High water has plagued us all season, many times keeping us from fishing our favorite waters for weeks. Often times we find ourselves fishing smaller water or tributaries that feed our desired rivers or streams. Many times these tributaries or “Tribs” can hold surprises under small cut banks or in seams we have so many times overlooked. I found myself becoming more and more familiar with a few local tribs as the season passed by. One in particular has a history of healthy wild fish mixed in with stocked fish from the main river; wishful thinking seems to blind an angler when such stories are floating about. Every fish landed you think to yourself “this one is wild for sure” or “I don’t know it looks wild to me” more times than not it is just a healthy stocked fish, but there is always that chance.
Wild fish have distinctive marking and many times fight much harder than their stocked neighbors. Many times you can tell a wild brown trout from a stocked one by a blue or black spot on the gill plate. Wild browns become very colorful and get almost a red belly during the fall due to natural spawning instincts. Rainbows can be a little harder to tell apart, many wild fish carry parr marks for several years. Color and fin shape can also be distinct signs of both rainbows and brown stocked fish. Nevertheless the fish are all beautiful and the cold, food filled streams keep the fish strong and worthy of the time one spends chasing them.
With the Tully running high and muddy, I decided to head to a smaller stream and see what I could learn today. Here is a sample and one reason why I love to fish.