Monday, October 29, 2007

Sapillo Creek-Gila Wilderness,Gila National Forest

I've fished Sapillo Creek 6 or 7 times now and the results have been erratic. My worst day: a single fish, although that day was less frustrating than the one where I couldn't catch anything bigger than 6 inches.That day was particularly frustrating because on my previous outing I had caught the 2 largest trout of my fishing life up to that time. My best day on the Sapillo, I injured my knee early on, and even though I was a virtual cripple for the remainder of the hike, I caught 2 dozen fish . There weren't any whoppers, but plenty of nice fish in the 8-11 inch range.
Sapillo Creek west of the bridge is a very healthy riparian area with willows,alders and grassy banks in places. It always has enough water. I have never encountered( in the 4-5 miles I fish) any dry stretches, so frequent on Gila streams.The reason it's not more of trout stream probably has to do with the temperature of the water that flows off the top of the Lake Roberts dam and the less than shady or healthy 6 miles of stream on the east side of the bridge. It fishes like the lower ends of the forks of the Gila and the Gila itself. Early spring and late fall are best.Even though it was the last weekend of October, it has been so warm that I probably should have( and have in the past) waited until the first or second or even the third weekend of November to fish it. The biggest rainbows hang out in the deepest pools,usually those that have streambed springs or seeps nearby. My first fish on Sunday,a 14-15 inch rainbow,that had to be close to 2 pounds,was caught in one of these pools near the mouth of Spring Canyon.

I hooked a second one in a similar pool further downstream that I lost on the second or third leap. You won't catch these on dry flies, and the nymph will need to sink fairly fast depending on the current. I got mine on beadhead Prince Nymph.Smaller fish that look more like Gila/rainbow hybrids can be caught(with dries some of the time) in the well oxgenated water in the small falls at the head of many pools.Some years there will many other types of fish throughout the stream. I have seen suckers,dace and even some large catfish here. Other years, it has been filled almost exclusively with trout. The past few years I haven't seen any trout, at least not until they were chasing my fly.I just hopefully cast to to likely places- a strategy that will do well on most Gila streams. The fishing has been slow the past 2 years.Even so, the thrill of battle with a leaping 16 inch or larger rainbow may occur to break up the monotony. In additon, it's beautiful place in the fall.

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