A few posts back I wrote about a young man who I had the pleasure of meeting riverside while hefting a bloody motorcylcle out of the river. The Kid, casting like a Champion, in winter, chasing trout. Crazy dude.
It was my pleasure once again to have The Kid and his Uncle riverside this week. I had fished the day before and had a wonderful day of mayfly dryfly fishing and was hoping for the same. The river had other plans for us but more on the later.
I enjoy taking people out on the river more than most things. I have this desire and passion I must fullfill. Sharing the outdoors and moments with trout and anglers is a driving force for me and gives me purpose. It is something that I am happy to be completely immersed in now, much like when I spent more time in the woods than not.
We floated the Upper Yakima Canyon and we had a slow day. A big drop in water temps from the previous day due to low overnight temps made for slow fish. The sun also shone brightly and the Osprey were out. The dreaded W also…did not help. But that is how chasing trout goes sometimes. We saw a few fish. The Kid was bestowed a few new nicknames all of which are hilarous and have been bestowed on many anglers including myself. The Whitefish Whisperer, Fast Water Fighter, Champion Caster, Back Seat Driftboat Huslter. Those are a few. Anchor Line Tangler is a good one too.
While his Uncle and I talked and we floated, The Kid hung out in the back seat, just slipping casts all over the river… Like a Freaking Champion! I didn’t even have to tell this dude where to put the fly, he knew. The lesson and his independent study shows in his ablity to read water and instinctively know when and where to put the bug. I would look back and his indicator would be right on line, then he’d pick up, give it a quick flick, and BAM back on target below a log, or a boulder. Tight loops for the wind too. He was snaking water from his uncle, coming in behind the frontman’s fly poaching water like a guide would. His uncle would hit a good line, and The Kid would flick his cast that much closer, right on target, just money. All day long I’m telling myself, “Damn its nice to have good rhythm.”
I like my life the speed of a driftboat interrupted by chaotic moments of pure awesomeness and happiness. Its a simple, dirtbaggy way to live, but my lady and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I am literally going driftboat speed with interruptions by trout, life is that much sweeter with two fly rods flicking through the air while I row down the line. Nothing better than a driftboat riverside.
While the day went by slow in terms of trout, everything else was about perfect when I think about a river float. We were coming to the end and I had all but given up and was haphazardly holding a lazy line along the diversion above Tanuem.
I may have mentioned to The Kid to hit the seam as we came down but he had already picked his line. We moved near the rocks, I see out of the corner of my eye; The Kid bomb a wicked sweet cast into the seam just above the diversion line of boulders. I look down river and put on the breaks with a few good pulls on the sticks.
I look back and The Kid’s line goes tight and we both think its a rock and he yanks on it to set it free…holy…shiznat! It wasn’t a rock… The line goes tight, the fish pulls…its on.
The Kid is on his game right from the get go once he realizes its a trout. And I mean a trout. Of course this fish tries to school the young angler. It heads for the rocks with full force. Take into account the current is pretty good here and we are moving down stream and looking back upriver at this trout now. Like a trout that has been played before, the indicator goes between two rocks and this is the instancne I wince, and everything goes silent. The Kid lifts his rod tip high, I swear he was on his tip toes in the back of the boat. We both watch, him in amazement, me in horror, as this trout goes into the boulders. Then we see it…I thought it was steel at first, this raibow colored slab rolls down the rock into the fast current and runs down river…stealing line, running like it robbed a bank. I tell The Kid to let it run but keep tension. (I knew he had 4X on so I intended for him to play this fish like a mother f’ing boss!) He did too. From the back of the driftboat The Kid out Hustles this wily trout in the fast water…Fast Water Trout Hustler.
As all this is happening, as a guide, I am looking at how we are going to land this fish. It’s the best of the day, at the the end of the float, and its F’ing Decent! I find a soft spot on the edge of the current just large enought for the boat. Its fast and deep, but I can make it work. Like tucking behind boulders landing big fish in fastwater up river. We go across the current, I slide in, couple crab strokes, like freaking butter, just a wicked job if I do say so myself.
The Kid is still playing this fish which is now headed back upstream in the faster water. Exactly what we wanted it do to. Play em hard, get em in, and put em back. This entire process lasted mere minutes in reality. In one aweome guide moment, I drop the hook, hop out of the boat into thigh deep water with current, grab the net and get to work. The water is fast, the boat is held and we have a small seam of slower water to get this done in. Its perfect. As a guide and an angler its nirvana, dude.
I am reveling in the moment unfolding and cannot wait to see if we can meet this trout. It sees the net and runs, pulling line out. I yell, “Let it go!” “Rod Tip Out!” as I motion for The Kid to keep the rod at an angle. His Uncle is just as excited and coaching him perfectly as I move into position. The trout comes close, I reach for it and it runs down just out of reach, headed for a pile of junk just below. “Rod Tip UP!” “Try and get the head up!” The fish turns back towards the boat and moves for me. I get out of the way, I can hear The Kid and all his enthusiasm. Its wicked cool. The trout tries to go under the boat. I duck under the line and scoop the trout into the net just in front of the boat avoiding disaster. The chaos only builds! Its a wonderfully bright, post spawn, leapord spotted, rainbow. Hefty trout, not the longest trout at around 18 inches but fat and full of newly invigorated muscle from chowing down after the spawn.
The Kid hops out, I know exactly how he feels. The fish took the Dirty Batman Prince I tied up…Double Awesome!! Right in the corner of the mouth. Fly slipped right out with a twist. We held it in the net in the water to let it recover for a few moments, the water was fast and cold so I knew we were good. The trout was still thrashing angrily in the net, when The Kid prepped for the release. Just a healthy Wild Yakima Rainbow. The Kid had a great wet release, handling the fish with respect and finesse. The fish sped back into the fastwater, a wonderful end to the moment. To top it off another guide boat drifted by as the high five was happening and they were just above us listening in on all the awseomeness. (Back Seat Driftboat Huslter). Living in the moment. Living in the life. Epic Moment, and Epic Trout. Both for angler, and for guide.
Its the stuff I live for. That moment when I get to share the world I live in everyday. Not a day goes by I don’t think about trouts. It’s a slower world, a simplier one, a river world, a world where wild fish take flies. Where anglers and trout test one another through river, rod, fly, and cast. I am still jacked about it dude. Just thinking about it makes me want more of it. To chase these trout. To net the fish. I get to introduce anglers and trout and its my life! I get to teach people why its important we have these wild fish, why the trout and the rivers that hold them deserve respect, how sharing in these moments makes us want to keep having them for years to come, and be able to share with all who are willing. I also forgot to mention how much damn fun it is. I mean really…its pure fun.
Driftboat speed with choatic interruptions from wild trout, while being riverside, with anglers. Fly Angler Life…Abide. See ya riverside dudes.