At last, Regan and I settled down in Flagstaff by mid August, and I was able to begin exploring some of the fly fishing opportunities around our new home in northern Arizona.
I started by delving into Oak Creek, my new home water, a mere 25 to 30 minute drive from our place. I fished here several times in mid to late August, and focused on the catch and release section (from Junipine Crossing upstream to the West Fork confluence). The stream here is marked by abundant tumbling pocketwater and chutes, and occasional longer, deeper runs and pools, flowing through a forested canyon of Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs. The water was low with the flows of summer, and crystal clear, interspersed with polished gray boulders, multicolored stones along the streambed, and thriving riparian vegetation. In short, the stream was a lush oasis, a beautiful sight for the scenery and the fishing potential it offered, and I couldn't help but think how fortunate I am to live in such close proximity to this place.
I caught the Brown trout above on my first visit to Oak Creek, a dark yet colorful fish of 13", using a 9' 5 wt outfit, 6X, and a #16 orange-bodied Neversink caddis. The fish rose near the tail of a fine cliff-side run, while I crouched behind a boulder and sedges, as evening took hold. A closeup of the side of the trout is shown below.
I caught another dark Brown around 11", a hatchery Rainbow of 9", and missed or spooked several other Browns downstream. From the outset, these fish proved spooky, particularly the Browns; not really surprising, given the wary nature of Brown trout in general, and the low, glassy water conditions. They demanded a cautious and careful approach, and while challenging, also often rewarded a well-presented fly with a confident strike--just the sort of conditions I enjoy in fly fishing.
I fished the stretch above later in August, and caught a number of fish, mostly wild Browns that are the gems of this creek, along with several Rainbows (one wild, the others stockers).
This Brown trout measured 10-11", a decent-sized fish through this section of Oak Creek as far as I could tell, and sporting some vivid colors, as seen above and below.
I stuck with dries for the most part on this day, using #16 and #10 Neversink caddis, and switched from 6X to 5X tippet when the light was off the water, with good results. I cast one of the larger dries into an eddy wedged between a log and boulders, and received an aggressive rise from a fish that proceeded to try its best to tie me off. Fortunately, the tippet held, and I admired a colorful, chunky Brown, close to 13", the best fish for this day.
Another eddy is pictured below, with a blackberry vine dangling over the foam-flecked lie; not the easiest spot to cast into, but places like these, affording cover and currents that provide food, are almost sure to hold at least a decent Brown, I have found.
I cast a #14 BH Peacock Soft hackle on 5X into the back corner of the eddy, and received a firm tug, materializing as a scrappy Brown, just under a foot, another beautiful, richly-colored Oak Creek fish.
A flat piece of water flows beneath the tree-lined banks of the stream. I spooked a good Brown around 12-13" from the very tail of this run.
And one more Oak Creek Brown, this one a good 10", that grabbed a #12 BH Krystal Hare Nymph in a chattering pocket downstream of the image shown above.
I provided a head shot as well, to highlight the dark gold and olive coloration, and the bright red spots that seem to adorn the sides of many of the wild trout in the stream.
I was able to begin exploring Oak Creek, a deceptive and rewarding stream that I immediately fell in love with at first sight, a heartbreakingly pretty piece of water, populated with some of the more stunning Browns I have had the good fortune to briefly admire. I look forward to trying to uncover some of its secrets, and hopefully fool some of the creek's better Brown trout.