Headed out early this morning and once again 4 o'clock seemed to come too soon. The boys met at the house bright and early, well Nate and Will. In order to get Nick here on time he crashed out on my couch ; )…. I'm sure he is glad he did with all the noise. . The upstairs dudes were playing fetch with their dogs on the hardwood balcony/deck at 2 am, it was loud, I yelled and it sucked. We had a collective 2.4 hours of sleep, maybe. We were lucky enough to have my old friend/roomy Will Wissman come along and bring his creative camera work. This will be his first time shooting fishing; well second if you count a few minutes of playing around a long time ago. I am excited to see what he captures. We have worked together in the past and I know how superior is work is, an original artist.
Hitting the water is always a long conversation…where to start. Anyone who fishes this area knows its not a numbers thing here, there are few fish but the few are strong so finding them is key. After 4 trips up here it’s the process of elimination. We finally picked a spot and went for it. I picked up a few fish right away, a brown, bow, and whitey, all hanging out in one small hole. Nate pointed out that I almost have a quad already, just need a Cutthroat.
Searching and fishing, fishing and searching, the race began. A few fish were plucked along the way on the walk to a very large pool. Down lower I found the Cutthroat that I was looking for, purdy fish. The forecast was looking eventful, before noon I had already had a handful of fish, this is going to be a good day. Nate was working the run below the giant pool when he got into a pod of fish and a few feisty browns were netted. It’s a great start. Nick and I headed up to the large pool that covered the entire river. He took the tail and I tried to find away to get in closer, doubtful though. It was deep and one could only cove a very small percentage wading. The head of the pool was formed by a long rock "jetty ", the water was then "poured" into this mini-pond, perfect. So I went from rock to rock until I could go any further, only a quarter of the way. Too my surprise it was shallow tight to the rocks and extended maybe few feet out. So I hoped in and made my way to the middle. Walking in the tiny falling water the entire length of the jetty was a bit spooky, the water was strong and there was an abyss on the other side of me. Underfoot the shallows created a nice slippery moss bed on the rocks. So it was one hand on the jetty and one slow step at a time the entire way. I better at least find a whitey. Nick was picking off fish at the tail end, most were whitey and I think he landed a small brown. Finally getting situated I hacked my cast out and the line went tight. The fish hit hard and made its way below me, running for the deep and I had nowhere to go. Fortunately luck was on my side and a fat healthy Brown fell victim to my poor imitation of a fly. Mission accomplished.
We made our way down the river until we located a likely spot. It was a good call… we found a ton of fish. Rainbows and Whiteys occupied almost every suspicious area and only perfect drifts enticed our fined friends. Mid-day sun was upon us now and the lighting is way too bleached out for photos. Nick and Will decided to rest until the light gets better.
I went to find Nate who had disappeared some time ago. That meant two things, he found a ton of fish or he is still searching, I better find out. As I came around the bend I was surprised to see Nate just right there only a short distance away from where we were… and in a long beautiful run twisting around structure. In a few short moments I watched Nate pull fish as he slowly worked the run over. I learned that Nate could drift the fly for at least eternity, perhaps longer. Not only can he keep it going he can still stick that fish way, way, down stream and somehow he lands it. I discovered a lot about fishing watching Nate work that run…but I wasn't surprised every time I learn something new fishing with him. Not in words though because he won't say much, you have to pay attention.
We crossed the river and began working the far side. The river appears to all look the same here, shallow and smooth them flowing into a long shallow gravel bend. Taking a slow cautious approach we saw that one particular spot there is a four-foot wide section that runs deep and clear for about 30 feet. No fish were observed but I got the go ahead from Nate and lobbed it in. A few casts later and the second prized Cutthroat was to hand. The colors are one of the things that I like the about these curious fish. I offered Nate the hole and he kindly declined. A few Hail Mary's later and the line went from slack to tight. I lifted my rod and that's when I saw the flash. The Brown turned and ran down stream. Great, so I ran with it, it kept going getting closer and closer to the fast shallow water. I was trying to guide him to the bank to slow shallow slack water. Again somehow luck was on my side and he submitted there in a quiet pool. We estimated him to be about 20". Nate grabbed the tape and pulled it to 23". It seems that we are always underestimation the size of fish, ironic because I hear of all the 22" inch fish being caught, but I can't seem to ever get them… I'm buying a tape now ; ) Nate grabbed another brown before we headed back to the truck.
Nate Miller Photo's
The last spot was a tricky one. The past three weeks the fish had been right here. But now it seems that they have moved on? In the last few hours of light we all managed to get a nice fish. Nate and Nick landed some fatty bows and I was fortunate enough to touch my fourth Cutthroat. It was one of the best days for me on that water, finally. Its been a long time coming and this spring its all come together.
I am hoping that Will is going to let me post some of his "B" stuff. The photography was far better that I had anticipated. One day of shooting and 300 images were shot but 1000 photos were captured. It was insane what he was doing. and its just the beginning.
****Additional photos by Nate Miller