Sometimes you gotta spend time between the mountains--down in a valley. Sunday D and I decided that was our best option. He dusted off his fly rod and strapped it onto his Lev, then we rode up Rattlesnake Creek as far as Franklin Bridge.
We each tied on our best guess and proceeded to wade and hopscotch into position.
The creek is mostly small and tight this high up, with lots of overhanging veg that kept you on your toes when casting, or kept you busy unhooking leaves and untangling knots.
The water was crystal clear and visibility down into it was *perfect*, but we were far enough up that I wasn't certain the fish could even make it this high. Despite several great placements and favorable drifts, the first 30 minutes passed without a hit or even a sighting. So I moved lower, and just as I passed D he hooked into a healthy fighter and it was awesome to watch him light up. Among the memorable comments he made while playing this fish were "Remarkable!" and "I never thought I'd catch a fish today!!"
Technically he didn't catch it, as it managed to flop off before he landed it. But the thrill was there and he was glowing and bubbling as I moved to a lower set of holes.
Much wading and looking ensued until I found a small set of holes and pouroffs that looked favorable. I fed out some line, rolled a cast across the creek, then let the current do its thing. Just as the fly passed a small eddy before a pouroff I saw a flash of silver come up, touch the fly, then dart back down as the fly poured over into the next hole. I smiled and retrieved the line--I had someone to play with!
I rolled the cast a touch higher this time, let the fly drift over the hole, and saw the exact same flash, touch, dive. But no hit, no hook. Huh. Sweet--this guy was a bit smarter than the average bear!
Another roll, another drift, another flash, nada. Dangit. I pulled in the line, snipped off that fly, retied another, then rolled the cast out there. Drift, flash, nada. Doh!
In all, I cast twelve (!) times to this same fish, with 5 different flies (!!) before he hit hard and the fight was on. He wasn't much for size but I can appreciate a worthy adversary of any dimension.
The next hour or so was full of similar moments--savvy fish educating me on how things are done around here. I hooked into at least a dozen and landed maybe 7 of them. Great, great fun. When I'd exhausted all of the holes in the vicinity I bushwhacked out to the road and walked back up to the bikes, where D was napping in the shade. We agreed to roll awhile toward home but keep our eyes peeled for another good hole to play in.
As we rigged up and tied back on, D made a comment about not even caring if he caught anything here, since he'd already caught 'that one' above. I reminded him that he'd actually not landed it, explaining that he was still 'technically skunked' for the day. He chuckled and nodded and started bushwhacking down to the creek. Seemed like not 90 seconds later I heard a hoot and looked up to see this:
The fight was on!
Doesn't seem very excited, does he?!!
With that formality out of the way, D headed downstream and I headed up. Big holes, many hits, technical casting--way, way fun. At some point I reversed my course and started downstream, just as D passed me heading up.
Hard to say how much time passed, so engrossed was I in the moment to moment.
Next thing I knew D was yelling to me from above (at the bikes) and held a keeper over his head. That was my cue. I reeled in, hiked up, admired his catch, then we rolled back down the valley toward home.
D seemed positively possessed as we motored homeward--if I wasn't constantly mashing the pedals he'd open a huge gap and those gaps were simply not closable on this day. He was inspired!
Back at the house more pro-class eating ensued, followed by lounging, conversation, another apple tartlet, and more relaxing.
All in all, a brilliant two days. Massive thanks to D and M for entertaining, feeding, and tolerating me. I'll be back--if they'll have me!
Still more to come as the All-Mountain Tour heads north--across the border.