Every where you look, its all about the big one: Johnny Boss Hog. Hogasourus. Hog Johnson. Toad. Pick your name; you already know all the references. Facebook and Instagram are covered in monsters that don't even fit in a net. I subscribed to the "bigger the better" thought for awhile too. I caught my Colorado Water Hog & I wouldn't be upset if it happened again. There is a problem with chasing Hogs though: everyone else is chasing Hogs and its more crowded than a happy hour featuring the Jim Beam girls.
I have to battle rush hour traffic in the concrete jungle 5 days a week. The last thing I want to do on my down time is fight for a spot on the river. (Never mind the jerks that high/low hole you, etc.) Like many of you, fishing is my release. Plus, the Rainbows are spawning & there's even more people to wade through. I need wide open spaces & wanted to give the spawning bows a chance to...well you know what.
Thus began my love of small streams & little browns. Let's get the touchy, feely stuff out of the way first. The small streams boost some seriously gorgeous scenery. No one for miles around, fresh clean air mixed with the smell of pine, & the buds and blossoms of the Spring. You might even see random pieces of animal parts laying around. Maybe a shed or two. Your small stream might be vastly changed thanks to the hard work of a beaver still busy working on changing the landscape. And, if you're like me (which I'm starting to get the feeling most aren't) you don't even care if catch a fish, you're just happy being out in the great outdoors. Sittin' back against a tree, drinkin' something tasty with your guy/girl/dogs, soakin' in the sun is the life!
Then there's the approach: The ninja fishing skills really get a work out when you have to stand 3 feet back on the bank to cast into a stream that's maybe 2 feet wide whilst trees and various other vegetation make an obstacle course to cast around. If you have an A-Type personality (like I do) this can be both rewarding & annoying. I expect perfection but I produce a cast much less of that! In my case, instead of casting above his face, I cast it right on top of his head, spooking every fish in a 5-mile radius. (Maybe that is why I like the hiking aspect so much, I'm good at that part!) When you finally get the sneak right & the cast accurate there are fish!
The little brownies, 6 inches or so, full of piss & vinegar (as The Beard would say), hitting your dry fly with so much effort you think you may have caught Johnny Boss Hog. Oh the fun of a 3 weight! The ever territorial browns make the hike to the small stream worth it. Plus, they're cute! I'm always amazed how different the little guys look with spots/colors compared to their larger kin. Dare I say it, but it seems as though the little ones have more life to them. Almost like they realize they might be the underdog, but they're going to fight like hell.
Perhaps the biggest reason I fell in love with the small streams was simply because of the aggression I witnessed when a larger brown attacked a smaller brown that I had on the fly. I know fish eat fish, this wasn't new to me. I've seen photos with fish in the mouth of another fish. But SEEING it is an entirely different ordeal. I felt bad for the little guy, then thought it was super cool. Back to feeling bad because I wanted the bigger fish to keep going! I just said they were cute, now here I am saying its cool watching browns duke it out! (This isn't the best quality photo, but it's all I have and even if they were better, pictures do not provide justice) The bigger of the two didn't eat the little one, he just didn't want him around his area. Touche' Mr Brown, touche'.
Whatever the reason, a Moonshine high in the Rockies, a great day with the Beard, my first sunburn of the year, or feisty little brownies.... I'm a lover of the small streams, even if I catch more trees than fish. A little more practice & a little more stealthiness & I may just never go back to chasing Johnny Boss Hog again.
Ha, ya right.