“A Thousand Words” recalls the stories behind photos that bring back some of my fondest moments on the water.
Sometimes the biggest fish make the smallest riseform when coming up to eat a dry fly. In the closing minutes of a great day guiding an older gentleman from California, this fish just happened to be looking up at the right time. We floated through a set of boulders known to hold big fish and the size 8 stonefly imitation was placed perfectly in a nice little slick.
I watched intently through the glare of the sun to watch the hair-wing stimulator dead drift its way through the fishy little holding lie. Just when I figured there was nobody home, a very small dimple was made on the fly. My guest was patient as could be, and stuck the fish firmly once we knew she had taken the fly. If we had lost the fish and my only indication of size was the way it ate the fly, I would’ve put it somewhere in the eight to twelve-inch range.
I asked him if it felt like a decent fish. “Nothing special”, he said casually as the water we were floating over began to pick up speed. Perfect, we will get this fish in the net quickly and head back to the dock. As I went to fold my oars up and grab the net, all of a sudden I hear the RPM’s on his reel steadily increasing. Next thing I know we’re into ten, twenty, thirty yards of backing and counting. This was a combination of the size of the fish and the fact that it was swimming upstream as we were floating in the opposite direction.
The “nothing special” fish was suddenly making itself out to be a fairly worthy one. We tucked into a back eddy formed by a series of large rocks and waited for her to retreat downstream. Downstream she went, and downstream she kept going. Now she has passed us as we float downstream to catch up, we still have not even had a glimpse at her.
She slowly began to tire and after two failed attempts a successful scoop was made. My guest was beside himself, admiring a gorgeous fish we taped a hair shy of 24 inches long as she lay in the net. This was the biggest rainbow he had ever landed, and if we would’ve missed the hook set on the initial eat I would’ve likely shrugged it off as a “tiddler” coming up to take a swipe at what it thought was a stonefly.
The “nothing special” fish seemed to grow a quarter inch every time the story was relayed after dinner, but it was entertaining nonetheless. I was told at a young age not to judge a book by its cover, on this day I learned not to judge a fish by its riseform.
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