Have you ever had that one moment where you wished you had your go pro recording? That moment where your fly gets eaten when you least expect it. The classic brown trout take, you wished you captured a drone video of.
First of all, I want to take this opportunity to mention some disclaimers. I try not to be one of those anglers who wouldn’t share the locations I fish. Although I may not have been sworn to secrecy to keep this location under wraps, I’d like to not disclose the location to ensure that these fish will continue to swim in these waters.
I can probably start with the fishing day the day prior, but to save you the boring parts, I’ll just give you the highlights.
The day was sunny, with a little chill in the air. It was early May, so spring was in full swing. This season was my favorite, because it seemed like the whole world was slowly waking up from its winter slumber.
I met with my friend, Darren, who guides this river. He had lived in the area for most of his life, so he was very familiar with the river’s temperament.
My excitement was palpable, because I had never fished this river when the flows were at 2000 cfs. Darren told me that the fishing will be fast and the grabs will be even faster. Although I had told him the ever famous words, “I am born ready.” I was not all that ready. In fact, I was not prepared at all.
Typically when I fish, I do not stay in one place for long, but in this float trip we really didn’t stay in one spot at all. The flows were so fast that I may have two, maybe five seconds to keep my fly at a fishy spot and that’s it.
The first location we slowed down on, Darren handed me a rod with a slime line. I have never used one, let alone heard about this type of line, but I was game. Casting it was weird because it felt heavier than my typical intermediate sink lines. After a few cast and swings, I finally had a grab. Aerial acrobatics absent, we both concluded that it was a brown and it was. After the first fish we headed towards another spot, basically river rafting through the rapids. This time Darren handed me my rod, Echo Bad Ass Glass #6 with a salmon fly size 2 ( or might as well be because it was huge).
I casted that fly as close as I could next to the banks, letting it drift. It was not until I skated it back towards me, ready to recast did I get my grab. Darren said, “That’s another brown.” This man knows fish from the way they go for the fly, and he was right, it ended up being a brown. It was chunkier than the first one I caught that day. By the time we drifted to where we were to pull out, I was able to get another one on the slime line, another brown. I had a few steelheads on the fly but couldn’t get them to stay on the line. Yet I couldn’t shake off the browns.
The next day, we had the same weather, sunny and the air was brisk. Also, I was a little hopeful that I was going to catch a steelhead on the second day.
Darren said the day was young, and I would have my chance.
The day started a lot slower than the day before. We went back to the first place we stopped the day before and I had a bite and watched a brown go for a smaller fish, but the day was uneventful.
We continued checking some of the spots we missed the day before and seeing if we would have some luck. I had a couple of grabs on the salmon fly, so we decided to fish with that for the rest of the day.
The flows on the second day were slower, but they were still at 1700 cfs, and fishing the river was similar to how we fished it the day before. Darren told me stories of interesting days he had on the river to pass the time until a fish decided to play with us. Drifting past fishy spots, stopping for a few minutes in one or two spots then moving on.
“Keep your fly in front of the boat,” Darren called out as he navigated through the currents so we could go to another spot where fish might be holding. I was able to entice a few to come up but could not keep them on the line.
“Just keep casting in front of the boat and keep that fly there. Fish near the banks where you think fish might be hanging out.” Darren said again and that was what I did.
We finally got to the part of the river where the flows were fast, practically white water rafting.
I kept my fly in front of the boat, resetting it every so often. I really wasn’t thinking much, because yesterday when we drifted through this spot, I did not have a single bite.
Then as I was about to reset my fly once more I saw a splash.
My fly was gone.
My line tightened up.
I set the hook and I called out, “Fish on!”
To which Darren replies, “Hold on, I’ll find a place for us to pull over.”
I quickly put the fish on the reel, to eliminate any spaghetti on the floor.
I continued to keep the fish on the line and in front of the boat, until Darren found a safe spot for us to pull over. Mind you, we were now in the thick of the fast water. Fish was still on.
For some reason, I always had this assumption that all trouts fight the same. This one, boy I was wholly unprepared for what was to happen.
I kept the fish on the reel, letting it run when it wanted to and reeling it back when I felt the slack. I was not only fighting the fish but also fighting the fast current as well. Then the table started turning, and the fish decided to go in the faster water, downstream from us, and I kept the tension on it.
At this point, I was not sure how long I would be able to keep the fish on the line. Darren was still looking for a spot for us to pull over to no avail. Then it turned and swam in front of the boat. On top of looking for a spot to land, Darren was also keeping the fish in front of the boat so the fly line doesn’t snag.on stuff. So far so good right? WRONG.
After a few runs into the fast water and back, it decided, “Well Fuck I’ll just go under the boat.” And so it did! This fish was under the boat and my rod was BENT. Bent to the cork. I have not seen my glass rod bent this far and saying I was impressed was an understatement. The fish had me in this position and all I could say was, “Darren what am I supposed to do? It's under the boat”
And I distinctly remember Darren saying, “Fuck I don’t know!” and laughter erupted from both of us. While the fish was doing acrobatics under the water, Darren was doing some limbo gymnastics, trying to avoid branches and helping me fight the fish.
“Man if someone was watching us right now, they would think that we did not know what we were doing.” Darren barked out and we were laughing so hard.
When I thought the fish was slowing down, it decided to go back to the fast water again, then in front of the boat, then behind the boat –to which Darren had to spin the boat so we were facing the fish. God when I say this fish made a run for it was another understatement. This fish had gone under the boat a total of two times! As this was all happening, we were still on the fast water, Darren was still looking for a place to land, until finally, he told me, “We’re just going to have to go down the river. There’s no place for us to pull over here.”
And I remember saying “I guess we’ll take this guy for a walk.”
When we were almost at the landing zone, the fish found a log to hide from. This was the point in this whole fight, where I went “ Oh shit, I am going to lose this fish.” A head shake. Tension was still on the fish. Darren asked, “Did you lose it?” Another head-shake and I go, “No still on it.” And the fight ensues.
Finally, after drifting a whole 200 yards, we found a place to pull over and net the fish. It still fought for another five or so minutes until Darren was able to net it.
You ever get that feeling, where you were so excited that your hands were just shaking? Heck, you were just a ball of excitement and nervous energy. That was how I felt fighting and landing that fish. My adrenaline was through the roof! That was the feeling I always search for when I go to these destination fisheries.
Darren and I were still laughing and reliving the moment we just went through.
“Man that was the only fish I landed today, but that fight definitely made it the only fish I needed to land today.” I said to Darren.
That day was truly magical and I love telling this story. This fish might not make anyone’s fish of a lifetime story, but it definitely was mine. It reminded me of why I took on fly fishing and why I love this sport. It reminded me of the shared moments with friends that could only be appreciated at that moment.
I will continue to advocate that fly fishing is for everyone and one day your fishing story like this one, will come.