The River is code named “Lost and Found” after Annette and the fact that this river is so overlooked. The day started early after an all night snoring competition between John and I. If there was a ranking system for snoring, I’m sure I know the top 10 competitors in the world and he and I would rank in the top 5. As it stands, the winner is still yet to be determined as there was no “official” judge.
Without a hitch we were off to fish while other campers dreamed of home after a long weekend that seemed a great idea at the time, but after a few days in the forest with family, things get rough. We looked over the river with great anticipation saw fish from the road as we geared up. They were feeding. They were massive. They were ripe for the picking and it wasn’t long before John’s resident skills paid off.
The fish here surprised me everytime, like hooking into a freight train moving solidly up a hill. Not only that, but these fish were brilliant swimmers to the extreme and put a wicked bend in the Sage One that it has never seen. The rod did play the larger fish better than I thought it would. Still, even with its superb construction, I lost fish and flies by the dozens. Some fish would strike so hard and so fast that they would break the 6x tippet before I even realized a fish had taken the fly. Frustrating. After some time, I did begin to find the groove and landed some of my own.
Days 1 and 2 on “Lost and Found” drained the life from me. Between the sun, extremely difficult terrain, fighting fish, and casting, everything hurt. I even felt as though my rod was starting to feel lethargic, on the last limb, ready to throw in the towel, or die trying. Every step worth every cast worth every fish.
Toward the end of the second day, I found the hole of holes on the river. I deemed it “The Chute”. It was the last pocket of water twenty feet from some wicked whitewater. Let me give you a quick rundown of fish before I explain the difficulty here. The fish in the river were averaging 16-19″ and a 12-14″ fish was around one in ten. 20″+ fish were about one in three and nearly impossible to land. For the days we were here, I needed to land a 20. So many times I set the hook into them. So many times I caught a glimpse of the fish before it was gone forever into the depths of Lost and Found. I cast into The Chute and pulled out a few fish (most importantly one containing 2 of John’s flies from the previous day), but there was one I that nearly gave me a heart attack. I saw a flash and set, solid hook set, no movement. I thought I had been snagged on a rock until I moved forward and saw its back vaguely beneath the current. It was a fish and it had the Hail Mary locked in its jaw. I pulled harder lifting the fishes head into the current. It did not like that at all. Off it went. It is said that a rainbow trout can accelerate to 23mph in one second. This fish easily broke that record and flew through the air like a salmon trying to get to his headwaters to spawn. My reel screamed in pain as the fish swam full speed down The Chute and into the deep run 50 yards downstream as I gave chase on land at a much slower pace. I made it to a slow pool along the run to work the fish. As I was settling in, the fish violently shook its head and both my flies and fish were gone. It was time to go. We moved on, to higher country.