Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's All About the Potential

Took a ride to Jackson Hole, WY today with Rick and Rob, who I've fished with the past couple of days, as well as Craig and Wendy, as Wendy heads home tomorrow. Stopped at a couple of fly shops and then had an early dinner at the Merry Piglets, a good little Mexican restaurant that Craig and Wendy found on their last stay in Jackson.

The ride was a nice little breather. I caught up on some rest in the back seat, and it also gave us all some time to reflect on the past few days fishing. Rob mentioned that he had been keeping notes from the trip so he could recount his tales from the trip to friends and family, and his starting note for Thursday was "The potential to have been the best day of my life." All the while, Rick was riding shotgun, and every half our or so, you'd hear him mumble, "Man that was a big fish."

This was the extent of our picture taking from Thursday....

Yes, I caught this little beauty, and it was a riot. When we got to the next pool, there was an absolute monster that Rob hooked, but it immediately popped off. I stepped in and threw a different fly at it, and he came back and hit again, but I missed as well. Rob then decided that he'd swing a Wooly Bugger through the pool, and the fish hit that as well, but as quickly as Rob's line came tight on the fish, it went slack again, and after three strikes, we were out.

We fished a bit longer in the same stretch, but it was high noon, and though we saw a lot of fish, it seemed like no one was at the buffet line, because we weren't even getting refusals. The fish weren't even looking at what we threw. I think we'll head back there next week either earlier in the morning or later in the evening when it's not so hot.

We headed up the road to a different area, and had some better luck there, each landing a few nice fish. I caught a great one near the end of the day after we'd seen a nice rise by the bank, but no picture as when I got the fish to hand, he'd inhaled the fly so deep into his mouth that it took some time to get the fly out and the fish was bleeding, so rather than photo, we spent the time resuscitating the fish and making sure he was good to go and swim strongly back to his hole.

Just up the bank, though, Rob and I were at it again, as we saw another huge rise. It was like deja vu to the earlier session, as Rob got a hit and missed, then it was my turn, and then Rob again. Three strikes by a very large fish, but no luck. In the end, it was a great day....memorable more so for the misses, but incredibly exciting nonetheless...and we'll of course be back to try to settle our unfinished business.

Friday we went to one of my favorite spots from last year, as we fished and hiked up a canyon in a tiny little mountain stream, which is different from most of the other water we fish here. Mostly small fish in this stream, but a lot of fun, a lot of action, and magnificent scenery.

And every time some does this hike for the first time, their photo gets taken at the top of the pass, which is the highest point we hit on the hike. Here's Rob:

Once we hit the pools in the upper meadow above the canyon, I caught a really nice fish that Rob got the end of the fight on video, and I'll hopefully download that and get a snapshot off of it to post later.

This morning before the trip to Jackson, Rick and I went out for a couple of hours. It was a beautiful morning, but the fishing was slow, we only had one bite, but boy was it a doozie.

We hit a part of the stream that was shallow and the water was moving quickly, and it seemed like we were making a lot of noise. There was a nice deep pool ahead and a reasonably clear bank on the right side of the river, so I suggested we get out of the water to hopefully make a more stealth approach. Once we got up onto the bank, I saw a very large rise from a feeding fish up at the head of the pool.

Rick began casting, and made a few casts to the back and middle of the pool with no luck. When he made his next cast to the head of the pool, the fly floated no more than a few feet before it was hammered, and the fight was on. You could instantly tell the size of the fish by the fight without having even seen it.

Rick got into the water and started backing up to move the fish towards shallow water. As Rick gained ground on the fish and the fish came shallow, you could see the tremendous broadside of the fish, an absolute monster. I dropped my bag to grab my camera, and no sooner did I have it ready and take a few steps towards the water when I saw Rick's shoulders slump, the international angler sign language for "Damn I broke him off."

But Rick quickly gathered himself, and as he turned to me, smiled and said, "What a beautiful morning, huh?" We had a good laugh and enjoyed the fact that Rick got a chance to play such a wonderful specimen on his rod. But all afternoon, just thinking about that fish, you'd get some goose bumps and chills and just have to shake them off as you said to yourself "Man, what a fish."

I think Rick's plan is to catch some live grasshoppers, go back to the pool and drop them in each day to feed that fish, hoping that the fish will get comfortable again and forget today's experience, so that maybe one day next week he'll let his guard down and give Rick another chance.

So as we headed back from Jackson and happily remembered our nice catches and near misses, I think Rob said it best when he noted that even though Thursday was the potential for the best day ever, really, every day on the water starts with that same potential. I know I'm excited for the potential and promise that tomorrow will bring.

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