By Barry & Cathy Beck

If I remember anything about the 2018 trout season it will be the high water, the muddy water, and the devastation from floods on our local stream. Cathy and I started out the season in New Zealand where we experienced our first cyclone and lots of high water. Then we came home to find our home stream, Fishing Creek, overflowing. Local fishing guides squeaked in some fishing days with clients in May and June, then came more rain and Hurricane Florence. Our home town made the national news, boats were running up and down main street and people were even netting trout out of the basements of local restaurants.

As if that wasn’t enough, a few weeks later we left for the Bighorn in the middle of Hurricane Michael. With an already flooded stream at home we wondered if the weather would ever calm down. Finally, by the end of September Fishing Creek was fishing well, anglers were happy, and the guides were back at work.

In October, Cathy and I hosted a group of anglers to the Pyrenees in Spain. We arrived to a spectacular fall day and settled into our hotel room. The following morning found us on one of our favorite tail water streams. By lunch time we had a nine-pound brown in the net and it was with high spirits that we met a few of our guests for lunch. Our outfitter, Ivan Tarin, waited until dessert to announce a weather situation headed our way. We had a hurricane coming right at us. There it was again that dreaded word — hurricane. Are you kidding me? Ivan gave a forecast of heavy rain and predicted that most of the rivers would blow out over night. As my mind raced ahead to what we could do with our group, Ivan, who must have been reading my mind, said that we would head up to the high country and fish for wild brown and zebra trout.

With a plan in place we went to bed that night listening to the pounding rain but hoping for the best. The next morning as we made our way to the mountains every stream we saw was blown out. An hour and a half later we came to our first clear water and by late morning we had everyone fishing.

Cathy and I with our guide, Alex, ended up on a small gin-clear piece of water that reminded me of New Zealand. Alex said we would be sight fishing to some very spooky brown trout and asked if we brought a three-weight with us. Indeed we had, and I uncased a new Sage Dart, a seven and a half foot stick matched with a weight forward three weight RIO Gold fly line and a RIO tapered leader tipped out at 6X. Alex chose a small black super beetle. Trout hunting has always been at the top of my list and this was going to be fun.

We started out by moving slowly watching for profiles that would spell trout. Cathy and Alex were in the water while I chose a higher position from the bank which gave me an advantage for spotting fish. I saw a shape that looked fishy and got a window where I could see it plainly. Yes, it was a trout. Not a big fish, but then we didn’t expect to find size this high up. I quickly gave Cathy and Alex the location and as they slowly moved up, they both spotted the trout at the same time. It was still a forty-foot cast in a slight head wind and this was Cathy’s first time with the Dart. I watched the loop form, the line reach out and the delicate presentation. The fly landed spot-on in front of the trout who slowly rose to inspect it. Just when I thought it would take, the fish continued to drift back with the fly then when I thought it was a no-go, it opened its mouth and the fly disappeared.

With the hook set the brown charged up stream before she could turn it. I thought wow that’s a strong fish. Once it was in the net I had a chance to photograph it before Cathy carefully released it. The balance of the day was spent hunting, spotting, and casting to wild browns. On the way back to the car we all agreed that the three weight Dart was the perfect choice for this rather technical small water.

The decision to drive the extra distance into the high country was a winner giving our group some exciting fishing in clean water conditions. It’s true the fish were smaller but with the right gear matched to the fishing conditions and the size of the fish, it made the day. That old saying adapt or die certainly has some merit. Our choice was simple — try to fish in the rising brown currents of the larger rivers or gear down and go to the high country.

As I write this the wind driven rain is pounding on the windows here high above the banks of Fishing Creek. I’m still not unpacked from our Spain trip nor have I quite gotten over the jet lag and the time change. I just took a break and clicked on underground weather only to find that we’re going to get another two inches of rain, the remnants of another hurricane. Are you kidding me?


Barry and Cathy Beck are Sage Ambassadors, fly fishing instructors, trip leaders, photographers and authors.  Their home is in Pennsylvania, but they are often found elsewhere.  For more information about Barry and Cathy, click here.