We geared up riverside and started our walk in to see a man about some troutskis.
Greg was up first again and I could not take my eyes off of the water as this was one of those spots that, deep down in your gut, you just KNOW will give up fish. Greg's first drift unbelievably made it through the pool unmolested. His second cast, however, was a foot farther and the water absolutely exploded as the biggest fish we would see the whole trip came out of the depths and demolished his fly. There was some extra line on the water so Greg set hard and the hook hit paydirt. This was a big and now very pisssed off fish that had the 5WT Radian bent right through the cork...until it didn't. After a few seconds of savage fighting the rod went slack...it had straightened out the hook and left us with our jaws in our laps. While it was not the desired outcome it was one hell of a way to start off the day!
We were playing baseball so Greg sat to re-tie while both Clark and myself landed a couple smaller fish in quick succession getting us back to Greg's turn. He made a few casts high up in to the back eddy on the far bank and, after throwing a heavy slack loop to stall the fly for a second, hooked up and landed this very solid brown. On the board with a nice fish we moved on upstream and worked each inch of water to be sure we did not pass by the hiding spot of one of the finned ninjas...
As we made our way slowly along I found that my eyes were looking up as often as in to the water. The cliffs were a site to see and we had swallows and magpies working the water and keeping us company.
After lunch we fished for a bit before getting downstream of that spot and Clark suggested that he and I cross well downstream of it and get slowly back up to our high vantage point to see if she was still there...and she was. We talked abot it and figured Clark would stay in place to spot, while I slowly made my way down to the peninsula to try and get a shot at this fish.
I made it down the slope and out onto the peninsula without stepping in the spring as I didn't want to stir it up and give her warning that I was on my way. I slowly crept forward as far as I dared and then got down on my hands and knees to get a few feet closer.
With the new fly on I waited until the fish was pointed the right direction and fired in a cast that was about a foot left and short of the current seam, so between the grass and lack of current the fly stalled out inches from shore. Clark yelled down that the fish saw it, was on it, moved in tto take a look and then sank back down not happy with what it saw. I waited until the fish slid out in to the current seam before popping the fly back to me and regrouping for another shot.
Since we know the fish saw and rejected the last fly I clipped it and went smaller...down to a sz18 X2 Caddis. I again waited until the fish presented an opportunity to cast without spooking it and this cast was again on the mark. The fly landed just outside of my view so it was squarely in the eddy and visible to the fish. Clark again excitedly called out the play by play as the fish again investigated and again rejected the fly.
We then decided that perhaps it had not been taking caddis but rather small beetles so I got set up with a little foam bug. Just before casting though Clark called down that she was now actively nymphing...this fish was being a real bastard. I cut off the beetle and decided to drop a sz18 bead headed caddis off a larger caddis. With the rig ready I waited for the fish to give me a casting window and as she drifted just under the current seam I made my cast. The cast rolled out perfectly and a little tuck at the end dropped the nymph and indi-caddis right at the top of the back eddy. I slowly took up slack as the fly inched back towards me and Clark confirmed the fish was interested...then swimming towards it...then I struck hard as he yelled down that she took it right as the last inch of line I could see told me the same thing. One strip set and I felt some serious weight on the line for an instant before the water exploded towards me and the fish came out to eye level, nearly beaching herself on the grass, before sliding back down in to the water. My heart was pumping so hard that it took me a second to realize that no amount of slack I was frantically trying to regain would bring me back tight as the small barbless hook came loose during the tarpon like explosion and head shake. fuck...
Recap...hands and knees, five flies, three casts, thirty minutes, fooled fish, unforgettable LDR. Pure awesomeness!
Dinner on day two the last few years has found us heading out to the ranch for a great meal, and then hanging around the ranch bar for a few beverages and some stories.
Our visit to the ranch coinsided with an employee party on the riverside deck so it was a lively affair. One of the guys, Hunter, had collected spring water from a local spring and grains from just over in to Montana to brew a fantstic beer for the night. It was one of the most tasty home brews that I have ever had. It was actually flat due to a mishap in the final stages of brewing so it was more like a cask beer...but delicious none the less. I was perfectly happy to have mine and enjoy the taste without the bubbles rather than use the remedy of some of the newly-21 in attendance that carbonated theirs by pouring in some PBR. I can only imagine how they felt the next morning.
We had a long day of spectacular fishing and followed it up with fantastic food, beer, and fish stories...pretty hard day to beat. It would have been fun to hang out and relax at the ranch bar but there was one day of fishing left so we called the night relatively early, before it was technically the next day anyways, and headed back to get some sleep. Morning would come quick and we needed rest as Greg and I were set to spend one of the most physically demanding day on the water I have experienced in a while.
Day three post to come in a few days...