I recently made the drive to the Savage and North Branch of the Potomac for a week of fishing. The North Branch is known for giving up big browns this month, and that coupled with recent stockings brought out more pressure than I have seen all summer. After catching three rainbows in the 17-18 inch range on the North Branch on a crowded weekday, I decided to focus on the Savage for the remainder of the week. I was rewarded with good fishing, saw few anglers and caught some of my nicest Savage River browns of the year. Attractor dries produced smaller browns and brooks, but using a ten foot rod and heavy nymphs had me into nice browns all week. On Wednesday I netted a 16 inch and 18 inch brown on the Savage, and over a dozen fish in the 7-15 inch range. On Thursday morning a cold front brought light rain, heavy clouds and a Savage dam release nearly doubled the flow. I managed in one day to catch double the trout I had in the previous day and all but five browns ranged from 12-15 inches. The higher flow was dislodging a lot of food, because most fish were on the feed, taking a variety of subsurface patterns well into Friday afternoon. The latest video is fish in hand shots, as I was filming solo on a banner day.
It wasn’t all play, as I was wearing a pair of Cloudveil’s 8X Grippy Rubber Boots sent to Backwater Angler for testing. The boot will not become available until February 2009. The new Vibram Link Idrogrip compound is the latest alternative to felt in the industry, which is a specifically engineered rubber sole offering grip on wet rocks. Since I’ve worn Cloudveil’s 8X “5.10” soled boot and Patagonia’s “Sticky Rubbers” for over two years now, I had a good gauge and varying water levels on the Savage to test this new rubber’s limits. The Savage has one of slickest bottoms in the state, and the Vibram soles gained traction on the “greasy” bowling balls and uneven bottom with similar results expected from felt. When the river hit 110 CFs on Thursday I could cross the waist deep rapids and scramble over boulders with confidence and a careful step. In comparing the old and new rubber sole designs offered by Cloudveil, I decided both (Vibram & 5.10) were equally “grippy,” although I know my old boot’s rubber soles grip improved after extended use on the river. Consider the Cloudveil shoe is extremely lightweight @ 15 ounces dry VS @ 25 ounces for a felt soled Chota STL+, and doesn’t get heavier when wet, or more importantly track invasives like felt soles. Talk of a ban on felt soles is more than just rumors as Trout Unlimited has urged wading boot manufacturers to stop using felt, and while Patagonia, Cloudveil and Chota now offer rubber soles, and Simms has announced it will no longer produce felt soled boots starting 2010 and Vibram will become the primary sole on all boot models.