One of those Days


I ve been eagerly awaiting the full fleged start of fishing season since, well, last Nov.! I generally write a fishing story about the first days fishing each year. Last year was so bad there was no story! I m not a fish counter but the total was so ridiculoulsly low it was easy to remember; 12 fish until the middle of May. I must have gone out 40-50 times to "achieve" that. To put it in perspective, that could "normally" be accomplished on a good afternoon..... The three years before last, the stories were written March 7-8.

While the rest of the country seems to be having a generally cold and snowy winter; MT has had a relatively mild one. I caught my first fish (dryfly only) on Feb 9. I went out for a couple afternoons with out touching any before that but that s still remarkably early. The following week, another mild one, I caught a couple fish each day. It wasnt crazy in the zone fishing but for Feb almost unheard of.

Well today was just incredible! A no wind, 50+ degree day with lots of sun. Sad about the sun part, so I waited unil 4:30 to go out. I drove all over the river to my favorite spots, saw lots of very small bugs ( midges) on the water but only the most occasional rise after them. Nothing worth suiting up for, fer sure! The water is 34 degrees and you need to really dress for it.

I decided after a lot of driving that I had to just go for it. I put on the neopreme waders with fleece pants and a jacket underneath. Like a guy in a bomb suit I walked/waddled down the tracks about a half mile to a good spot I know about. A little side channel, maybe 150' wide with some riffly water dropping into some deeper pools. The great thing about this spot is that there s an underwater sandbar splitting the channel so by just heading down the middle you can fish the deeper pools on either side.

As I got there the sun was maybe 15 degrees above the low mountans behind me. A cloud slipped in front of the sun and within seconds that were fish were up eating the midges clumped into mating balls, careening all over the water. Before I could get my rod strung the sun came back out and they all went down but I knew that it was a good sign of what could happpen later!

I waded out to the bar in the middle of the channel and headed down the invisible highway to the just above the deep pools. By the time I got my size 16 griffiths gnat on some #5 tippet, the sun was on it s way down, just peaking above the mountains. I was hearing and seeing splashes from 30-50 ft of me on either side of me. O Boy !

First cast, great, I can see my fly, floats slowly down some moving water, hits the edge of the pool, blup, fly goes under, rod tip goes up , and a beautiful red/green spotted rainbow comes flying out of the water, tail waving, spray flying. Line peels, fish runs and all is well in my world again......

I was fortunate that this was only the begining and for the next hour I got to fish two great pools without having to move my feet. Catch a fish on one side and then fish the other as the former pool quieted and the fish would rise again. As the warm, soft, light began to fade I hooked one last fish, with a powerful turn of his head he was gone. I checked my line and my fly was gone as well. A good time to quit.

It was one of those days.... that a fisherman gets only a few times a year. Having the right fly, at the right time, with the wind, the light, and the fish all cooperating. Just Golden