Day four started off much like the previous day had; rolling out of bed feeling well rested Greg and I headed down to grab breakfast early. The difference for me today was that I had to consciously think about chewing my food and slowing myself down. The excitement was near boiling over for me as today we were headed to my favorite water. I managed to put down enough food to fuel me through lunch and then headed back up to the room to get my gear together. Carefully I sorted through my pack, with shaking hands, to make sure that I did not leave any needed piece of gear behind. Of course I loaded up the humidor with a fresh supply of cigars as well...Leaf, LFD and Kristoffs would do nicely for the day on the water. After what seemed like hours, but was in reality about thirty minutes, everyone met up at the cars and hit the road.
Today's river meanders it's way through some amazing geography and has formed some of the best trout holding water I have ever seen. One pool with undercut banks flows in to the next through gentle riffles as it snakes it's way back and forth through a canyon rivalling Sedona's color with it's red rock outcroppings. The fish in this water have adapted to the bright sun and red rock bottom in such a way that I have not seen any other place. In this place their color truly reflects the conditions found in this valley. Their appearance is spectacular having taken on the coloration of a bright yellowy slab with intesely dark spotting, and with their pectoral fins and belly taking on a orangish-reddish glow.
The very first pool we dropped in to had what looked like a pair of really nice fish rising in the tailout. I had a small hopper tied on from the previous afternoon so I carefully waded in to position. They both rose again so I waited about the same amount of time from the previous rise then laid out a perfect cast to the bank. The hopper landed with a satisfying *plop* then slid down in the current mere inches from the grassy edge and right over the fish...with no reaction. Crap. We backed off and took a look at the water to see what we could find. There were a few female caddis flitting about dropping to lay eggs so we decided to go small and tie on a size 16 caddis. It only took one more cast to confirm that was the ticket to start the day.
Another reason I was excited for the day is that we got to hang out with our good friend Clark. Clark is a top notch guide and quick to laugh so we always have a great time. When we get out with him we generally play baseball on the river...one fish then rotate out between all three of us. While it does mean less time fishing I can not imagine a more fun way to spend a day than the shared excitement of catching fish and giving each other shit all day! Frankly I think it also makes me a better angler to be able to fish some and then be forced to observe. It is surprising how much happening on the river you may miss when you are zoned in on casting, mending and watching the drift. This also allows me to see how the other guys approach the water and fish through it.
Where the browns have adapted their coloration to be more vivd and match the surroundings the rainbows actually went the other way and are a bit more pale. In reality they are nearly like mirrors in the water and you rarely spot anything other than their shadows to give them away.
They just silently slide in and melt right back in to the bottom as you release them.
Clark was really digging the Orvis Superfine Fiberglass 4wt that I brought along. As he fished it throughout the day he agreed with me that it was perfect for this style of fishing.
Did I mention that Clark really REALLY loves his fish...never a dull moment! I won't give a play by play for the next few fish pictures as I think they speak for themselves. It was seemingly an unending parade of gorgeous fish throughout the day. I was super excited to be back here and it did not disappoint...this place is still king of the west for me. 350 days until I am back...give or take.
The day ended a little short of what we normally fish but everybody was all smiles. We had to get om the road a little early to get back to town and then out for our traditional prime rib dinner at the ranch. On the way back to the truck I caught the father and son team, Dan and Aaron, trekking back across the field.
Out at the ranch the dinner was amazing as always. Shortly after arriving we sat down and out came the perfect cuts of prime rib with green beans and twice baked potatoes. When we were on the river it was so good I had doubts about leaving but this feast made it worth it! After dinner we headed back over to the the shop, that is also the bar, to unwind for the evening. One neat thing about this place is the population of hummingbirds...they are everywhere. To get a close look I posted up underneath the feeder on the porch and stayed as still as I could. After about thirty seconds they were back buzzing close enough that I could feel their wings. One actually landed on my finger to feed and then hovered inches from my face staring at me before flitting up in to the trees. When you are close enough to a hummingbird to see their tongue you know you are close!
Inside at the bar people gathered around to have a few beverages and tell some stories from the day. It's about as unique a gathering spot as you are likely to find anywhere and something I always look forward to. This shot is from actually from two years ago but you'd never know it unless you spotted Teddy behind the bar, since he is guiding the Ponoi right now, or one of the new pitures not yet above the bar.
After a few hours of having more fun than anyone should be allowed to have the day was catching up with us. We had one more day to fish and needed to head back and get some rest so we said our good byes to those that would not be out the next day and headed back to town. Thanks to a pair of flats it was not a quick trip home... Cole and Justin bounced out with headlamps to help us out and it wasn't too long before we were back at the hotel and crashing hard, just under five hours before the morning alarm...