6:00 p.m. seemed like a bit of a late start to me for a "Poudre '09" matchup, but it proved to be a couple of hours of peace and some darn good fishing on the Poudre. Dad sped back into the lead tonight with a couple small but mighty rainbows and one nice brown.
I landed a small but beautifully colored rainbow myself, and then the real fun started. Just as I was struggling with my footing in some deep water, I heard the old man give a yell. Normally Dad just catches and releases in silence, so my heart skipped a beat as I turned upstream and saw his rod tip bending dramatically forward, his line as tight as a drum. He'd hooked a brown that proceeded to strip line into the fastest part of the river. Dad was walking swiftly (using the term loosely) downstream as the fish continued to run down river. I fumbled with the camera bag around my neck and managed to capture some of the action.
After a few thrilling minutes, the beautiful, wild brown grew tired enough for Dad to land him along the bank for a quick photo op.
My evening wasn't going quite so smoothly.
Try as I might, I never seem to cover every detail, particularly for an impromptu, spur of the moment outing such as this one. I've known for awhile now that I don't have enough fly line on my reel. It became apparent a few days ago when I was playing an abnormally strong, heavy rainbow. The rainbow was stripping line out rapidly and eventually pulled the line out all the way to the backing. By some miracle, he tired just as the line reached the end, and I was able to quickly retrieve enough of it to lead him to the bank. Today, I wasn't so lucky. As a 3/4 moon began to rise in the east, we dropped some nymphs in a deep run in a unique spot in the river. This spot is a fly fisherman's dream. The water runs slow and deep along both banks, with an island in the middle that causes the river to briefly break into two forks. The result is a stretch of water that combines riffles, pools, deep slicks, and eddies on all sides. I stood directly in the middle and worked a San Juan worm upstream to both banks, into the eddies downstream, and through the riffles. My indicator seemed to drop straight down on every cast, and if I really knew what I was doing, I wouldn't have missed setting the hook so much. I was, however quick enough to catch a brown of my own before hooking another really nice fish.
Having already made the mistake of not re-spooling my reel, I made a ridiculously amateur mistake. I hooked the fish in calm water and relaxed. The fish decided he wasn't done, and started running. He started a fast run upstream in the calm water. Rather than keeping the tension on my rod tip toward the calm water, I allowed the fish to continue running wherever he wanted to go. Seemingly in slow motion, I watched the fish run upstream and then abruptly surge across the river, headed for a fast, heavy stretch along the bank. When he hit the fast water, he simply sprinted with the current. I swear he was waving goodbye to me as he passed. As the line left my reel with the distinctive buzzing caused by a fish stripping the hell out of it, I waited with resigned anticipation for the moment when the line would reach the backing and the fish would pop off to freedom. And then...well, you know the rest of the story.
I reeled my line back in and looked at the river around me. Twilight on the river. I have no photographic evidence to support my version of events, but it happened, down to the last detail. It's moments like this one that fuel my addiction to fly fishing. In the end, I'm not sure I'm all that disappointed. It was just enough for me today, enough to ensure that I'll keep coming back to new experiences and new challenges. On occasions like this one, it's not about the destination, but it's all about the journey.