Sunday, August 14, 2011

Let The Daydreaming Begin...

Tonight I find myself back home after some 3,000+ miles of driving and what feels like a lifetimes worth of fishing adventures packed into ten days. With hundreds of pictures and stories and memories to share, we should have some solid blog fodder for many days to come. But whilespending the last 28-some hours in the car (the better portion of which seemed to be spent driving across the endless abyss of I-80 that is Nebraska) I kept catching myself dreaming of the same memory over and over again. So to get it off of my chest, somewhere in the middle of the Cornhusker State, sometime in the middle of the night, I pieced together this little recountencance on my cell phone:

“As handsome as he is, the cutthroat trout is in many ways an odd creature. For one thing, his vibrant coloration almost makes him seem out of place, like a drag queen in a country club. He is to the waters of The West what the cowboy is to the land, a pioneer of sorts whom, relying on adaptation and cunning is able to eek out a remarkably comfortable existence amidst some particularly harsh living environments. He goes about this business with what must be to the other trouts an enviable flair.

To become a big fish in a small stream is no easy task. So, as if to flaunt his achievement, a big cutthroat will take a dry fly with a nonchalance that borders on arrogance, like Michael Jordan shooting free throws eyes-closed. Often he appears to go out of his way to flash his deep crimson gill plates and fire-orange throat slashes as he lazily but gracefully breeches the surface, mouth agape, to sip the fly before vanishing into the depths. Indeed, the cutthroat dry fly "take" is a sight to behold.

Far up the canyon and near the end of a spectacular day of fishing I encountered an exceptional pool that stopped me in my tracks. It featured a sheer rock face on river left, and several jeep-sized boulders at the head of a powerful run which roared through its center. The gin-clear water appeared deceptively blue, a shade which I'd only seen previously in New Zealand. On the far bank, a cave-like overhang had formed in the ancient rock wall. Below it, a large eddy swirled like a hot tub with the jets on. I climbed to the highest possible vantage point to inspect the eddy.

I could see the big trout so clearly that part of me almost felt guilty, like I was watching some guy in his living room. If the roaring river were the rough and rugged streets of New York City, than this guy was living in the 5th Avenue penthouse suite, high above it all and without a care in the world. He swirled about the mild currents of the eddy sipping bugs so unsuspectingly that I knew if I could get a decent drift he'd take the fly without thinking twice about it.

The first cast was a poor one which he never saw. The second landed against the rock wall, and the fly held its position just long enough for the fish to see it before being swept downstream. I worried that the dragging fly had spooked the fish and held my breath for the third cast, which landed in the dead center of the eddy. He rose to it so deliberately that for a second I thought he might actually refuse the big foam dry fly. Then it disappeared between two gaping jaws…

Since I first encountered them I have marveled at the distinct attitude of the cutthroat and his ability to test an anglers' patience. Because the cutthroat often shows himself long before he actually eats the fly, antsy anglers go home empty handed. It takes tremendous restraint to watch the fish rise from his lie, inspect the offering, swallow it with indifference, and turn downward. Then and only then should one set the hook.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. And when I lifted the rod after that eternal half-second and felt life at the other end, I thought that if there were such thing as a perfect moment in fly fishing, this just might be it.”


  1. Wow. That was one of the most beautifully written descriptions of an experience that I have read in a long time. Kuddos to you, the fish, and the writing.

  2. Thanks, Greg! I appreciate the feedback and kind words.