The theme most of the year has been larger oversized bugs. Today's adventure followed suit. Drew and I met up at the standard time of early, really early… pre-dawn early. Then we are faced with the "where to go" syndrome. Drew is relativity new to the areas around these parts, so the decision landed in my lap. Over the valley and through the woods we finally arrived at the target…when we discovered a car parked in the lot already. How in the hell did someone beat us, it's early, remember. The question - "are they fishing"? We'll see, rigged up and headed to the water… conveniently walked by the parked car looking for the obvious signs of a fisherman; rod tubes, bags, packs, waders, scattered flies, empty Red Bulls, power bar wrappers, empty ibuprofen bottles… you know, the usual stuff. We spotted a whole lot of nothing, nada, not even a speck of dirt could be seen. I'm not sure what they are doing. I suspected that if they are fishing, it’s a quickie before work. We entered the water and as luck would have it, I landed a fish right out of the gate. I'm sure we both thought in our minds that this is going to be a good day. A few nice holes later we hadn't moved a fish, nothing spooked, then we discovered the problem and answered the big question. Up ahead three fishers are walking down stream, headed in our direction. We talked story and learned they had only fished up around the bend before they turned around… and they are headed to work. We exchanged some information before walking up to where they left off, I couldn't get the grin off my face.
It was pretty apparent where they stopped fishing, as soon as we entered virgin water fishing started to pick up… and fast. It’s a rare time when likely holding water is actually holding a hungry fish. Today was one of those days. Drew tossed on a Rainy's Marshmallow hopper and I had been tossing a Rainy's Mudfoot. For the rest of the day we took turns smacking the water and releasing fish. Half way into a perfect day a few unexpected surprises caught us off guard. After a few hefty fish things couldn't get better… but they did.
Approaching a long slow run we conversed about how to approach it. We broke it down into three sections; back, middle, head. Drew took the back and pulled a few beauties out, things were going as planned. A few pictures later it was my turn. I took the middle of the run leaving the head of the water for the last section. The hopper hit the slow quiet run with a large splat. Drew and I were in the middle of a lazy conversation when out of nowhere a trout latterly did a cannon ball on my hopper. It was the biggest splash that either of us had ever seen, like a large boulder would create with the "vacuum after splash" effect. We came really close to getting wet, I felt as if I was at Sea World. I didn't get a good look at the fish but the splash hinted at a large specimen. The fish dove as I set the hook; the odd tugs directly afterward felt as if it was false hooked, my heart sank. I tugged, he tugged right back, and now I thought for sure it was false hooked. I at least wanted to see it before he broke me off so I horsed it in to get a hopeful peak. When the fish came into view the first thing I noticed was the behemoth size, the next thing I noticed was the hopper sticking out from the corner of the mouth… its on. For the next few seconds the fish did everything it could to break me off, take off up stream, dart for the bank, rub me off on the steam bed and then it turned and headed down stream with lightning speed… towards the very fast water filled with many large sharp rocks. I did what anyone else would do, held my rod high trying to avoid my line from snagging up on the rocks and made a run, literally sprinting down the slippery river after the fish. A realistic 4-5 minutes later after a brilliant fight from the fish, it was now coming in for a soft landing. Due to the size of the girth my only option was to try and tail it. Luckily the spring Tiger Musky handling lessons paid off and the process was a gentle one. After releasing the fish, I clipped off my fly and I reeled up. I was satisfied and wanted to enjoy that experience for the rest of the day. On the way back to the car I was able to show Drew a different method of fishing that he had never done. Its kind of a Czech nymphing/streamer style mixed in with a dead drift. Think of it as fishing a wooly bugger and all the possibilities that its capable of. It was awesome to watch someone have so much fun while fishing. A few dozen fish later Drew was on fire and really getting the hang of it… I still had a smile on my face and am still trying to relive that 4-5 minute battle to this day… I love fishing.
Above pics shot by Drew K.