Should vs. Could

Photo for post "Should vs. Could"Photo for post "Should vs. Could" Here in the western United States, autumn typically creeps up slowly, the flows drop almost imperceptibly, and the fishing gets better and better as the leaves change. Fly anglers get a little delirious, like a bunch of sugared-up kids at 10 p.m. on Halloween.

This year it’s very different. Everywhere you go, people say, “The water’s so low. Haven’t seen it this low for a long time.”

The fly anglers have been pretty satisfied with conditions this year, but I can tell you they’re thinking a lot more about the fish, a little less about the fishing.

My friend from the Division of Wildlife tells me there was a fish kill in the Blacksmith Fork River last month. It was mostly chub and sucker, and he calls it “minor,” but still. We just don’t get fish kills around here.

“I’m telling you,” he says, “if we don’t start getting some precipitation, next year we’re looking at disaster.”

I consider asking him to define “disaster,” but I don’t even want to know.

Fish will surprise you. That’s one reason people love catching them—endless variation, no two exactly alike. The Bonneville cutthroat trout has inhabited my homewaters for hundreds of thousands of years. Who can say how many droughts this species has already withstood? They have come through ice and fire and untold human impacts.

Photo for post "Should vs. Could"Brown trout have only been here for a hundred or so years, but in some ways they’re even tougher than the cutts.

The best I can do is hope they know what they’re doing, I guess.

Photo for post "Should vs. Could"Not too long ago I waded up into this great little shady bend and pool, a spot that was very productive at this time last year, when the water was so much higher.

“Caught one there, and there, and there,” I mused. “There were two in that slot right there, and there was a big one behind that rock.”

This year it looks so different. The water behind the rock is only a couple inches deep, and the slot is practically desiccated.

I tied on a new fly and asked myself: “Should there be a fish there?”

No. Absolutely not.

Could there be a fish there?”

Well. When it comes to trout, that is a completely different question.Photo for post "Should vs. Could"

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10 thoughts on “Should vs. Could

  1. Great pictures! we had a rough couple of seasons ending this year but the fishing seemed ok…we didn’t fish a lot of the usual spots so as to not stress the trout…good work!

  2. SwittersB says:

    My favorite time of the year!!! Nice fish

  3. ShesaManiYak says:

    Great pics of some nice looking fish. The western end of KY has been in severe drought conditions for some time, but the eastern end where I live hasn’t done too bad this year in comparison with other years.

    • We’re entering our first year of drought after a very wet cycle. With sprinkler systems and swimming pools and carwashes everywhere, it’s easy to forget we live in a desert out here. Thanks for visiting!

  4. Luther says:

    The streams have been scary low in Michigan. Fished one stretch that is usually good for a couple trout and caught chubs. Season closes at the end of September for us and I am planning the very last weekend hoping the longer I wait the better the chance of rain. Nice post, great pictures – as always!

  5. Thanks for visiting and best of luck on that final weekend.

  6. Currently the stream conditions in the East seem parallel to those in parts of the West. Extreme seasons seem to be the rule rather than the exception, but the wild trout look to be hanging on, so far. Thanks for sharing.

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