Return to Trout City

A year has passed since my last encounter with one of the large locals that call this river home. I ventured back in the fall of this year, hoping to meet his friends. A game of hide and seek is the best way to describe the pursuit of these large trout. The rocky bottom of this anonymous trout stream is covered in thick moss, making it nearly impossible to sight fish among the dark contrast. However, this day was the exception. A gentle breeze and mostly clear skies resulted in fine sighting conditions.

Bored from throwing indiscriminate casts in countless pools and watching an indicator, I wanted to see a fish. I wanted reassurement that they were still there in the river. I positioned myself on an exposed rock two feet above the water surface searching for something at which to cast. In between passing cloud cover, I scanned the surrounding pool for movement, or any sign of life. A subtle flash caught my eye revealing a 20” trout 30ft upstream from my rock platform. I locked eyes on this fish and proceeded to cast the contents of my fly box to no avail. I cast without an indicator, using 7x tippet and #22 midges and nothing would turn this fish.

After an hour of frustration, I let my gaze slip and my eyes wander. That is when I realized that I had been nearly lining another 20” trout 10ft closer than the one I had initially sighted. Hoping this gaffe hadn’t spooked the second fish, I repeated my efforts. Unfortunately, the same events unfolded producing the same results: fly box casted, no fish. I relented and called my upstream buddy, Charlie, to come take a shot at these two fish. Only it was like a different musician playing the same old tune… a sad one. With both of us past our breaking point, we opted to abide by the familiar mantra, go big or go home. Maybe throwing streamer could work? It certainly couldn’t hurt after we had all but given up on these fish.

I regained my position on the exposed rock, sighting the fish, while Charlie headed upstream to swing a streamer. As Charlie began to cast, the communication between us went as follows… Charlie: Is that enough line? Me: I think so, the fish is in the same spot, but I can’t see it now that the wind has picked up. Try that same cast agai…

Mid sentence, while trying to locate the fish beneath the surface chop, I glanced up to see Charlie’s rod bent in half and him reeling frantically. Completely dumbfounded, the only thing I could think to say was, “Dude, is that a fish?” Not that I needed an answer nor my question even warranted an answer, the fish provided one, thrashing along the surface. I sprang into action, ditching my outpost and grabbing the camera and net. Trying to keep my adrenaline in check, I anxiously waited until the fish was close enough to net (it is very important yet undeniably difficult to not get over eager on the net job). Charlie reeled the fish in, expertly lifting its head out of the water while I scooped with the net. Just like that, the fish that had eluded us for two hours lay in the net, a mouthful of streamer. Charlie found the fish we were looking for, a fantastic reward for our efforts. Watching a friend catch a quality fish is something I cherish. The rush is contagious and even if I’m not in the driver’s seat, I love being along for the ride. Trout City delivered and fish were friendly. I hope to be back soon.