I feel like I'm writing "Spectacular" or "Gorgeous" or "Beautiful" so often that those words will lose their luster. It's hard to do this place justice, though, as every turn seems to bring something different and more aesthetically pleasing than the last....even when you pass it every day.
Yesterday we went up the hill and picked some rocks. Yes, we went rock picking. What for might you ask? To make the fire pit, or course. And obviously, Sid was very relieved when it was finished.
Later that afternoon, we headed out to "The Reef." It was an area that I'd passed nearly every time I'd even gone out fishing while I've been here, but have never stopped and hiked into. It was incredible. It was a phenomenal afternoon, and the lush green meadows against the volcanic rock lined ridges left only the slightest hint of despair after not catching a fish for the first time since I've been out here.
Craig and Sid each caught a couple, but the fishing was very slow as the water levels in this area were still pretty high, and we didn't see a lot of surface activity. Fishing on this stretch should be great in the next week to ten days, though, so I'm eagerly looking forward to heading back there.
I did get a pretty neat video of Craig catching a great fish which I think I'll try to get up on YouTube at some point. We've also discussed getting the Video Camera out with us a bit more and hopefully putting a DVD together at the end of the summer.
Here was the scenery of the day:
This morning I worked out and then did a few minor things around the cabin before I headed out fishing. Sid was off to Pocatello and Craig to Jackson Hole to meet Wendy to celebrate their anniversary tomorrow (Happy Anniversary), so I headed off on my own.
I was going to one of my favorite areas where I had a fair amount of luck last week, and on the hike out planned on stopping at a hole where I knew there was a large fish that I'd spooked each of the other times I'd been out this year. Sid and I had discussed my previous attempts at this fish and decided on a different plan of attack.
It was a bit more overcast and cool today than it has been previously, so everyone anticipated that the fish would be eating all day as opposed to early and late as typical on a warm summer day. I entered the stream and started making my way towards that hole, using a yellow grasshopper pattern. But as I cast and cast to start the day without seeing any hint of life, I was getting nervous that it would be a long day lonely day until the fish started eating. I cast and re-cast about 12 times and nothing was really happening.
I remembered that the day earlier Craig had caught a nice fish not to far from where I was with an orange attractor, so I decided to tie one of those to the end of my leader, and began again casting the beautiful 4 wt Sage rod that my friend Joe had given me before I left North Carolina. The first time I'd used it was yesterday and ended the day fishless, so I was eager to "get the skunk off" the rod.
The water and wind were calm, and I was getting a nice smooth drift. I couldn't believe that I wasn't getting a hint of action, when no sooner did a hole in the water engulf my fly. I came tight on the fish and felt the strength of a fish unlike any trout that I'd felt before.
I kept the line tight to make sure the barbless hook was well set. As I saw the fish begin to fight and come to the surface, I knew it was the largest trout that I'd ever had on the line.
I was surprised by it's strength, and wanted to be careful to get it to a location where I could photograph it, but not be so lackadaisical that I would risk losing the fish. As I stripped it in, it would continue to fight and try to get into the current and swim downstream.
After a few exchanges of taking line, giving some back, and then taking in some more, I'd successfully gotten the fish to the bank. I wasn't in a great spot, as the bank was soft and muddy, so I grabbed my point and shoot camera to snap a couple of photos. Luckily, I had it in a waterproof case as I dropped the camera in the stream in the process. With all the mud that kicked up as I landed the fish, I was nervous as I couldn't find the camera for a few moments. Fortunately it appeared after a few tense moments as I waited for the water to clear and was able to snap a few photos. A 24" fat, healthy, beautiful cutthroat trout.
I caught a couple of other nice fish in the next couple of hours. The fishing was a bit slow, but the ones that ate were voracious. Since I'm not big on walking around in water slinging a lightning rod, I decided to head in as I saw lightning approaching.
Unfortunately, my friends weren't there to share the moment of the catch with me, but the "Holy Cow" e-mail response to the photo, and the "You got a 24-incher today?" response upon return to the lodge was still a fun way to relive the moment.
What a day. Be well, all.