Three years ago I was able to head west for my first foray into some new water. Needless to say, after roughly a day and a half on the water, I had a new favorite place to fish for trout. For the next three years, no other piece of water captivated my imagination in the same ways this place had. For some reason, I never made it back. That is, until this past weekend.
The trip was engineered as a birthday getaway and I just happened to mention this place as a possible destination. The hosts, no doubt inspired by my previous experiences, decided that this was the place. I was pumped to say the least.
Eagerly anticipating what awaited almost five hours away, I drove the entire distance through the night and rain. We arrived to a blanket of fog and mist hovering over the gorgeous pocket water and despite the conditions, fish were rising to caddis along the edges of the boulders. We contemplated strategy and headed into the fray.
The fray was filled with steady rain, periodically interrupted by intense downpours. In a matter of hours we were soaked to the bone but continued onward over slippery boulders and raging currents. The strategy of choice was dry dropper, but this didn't stop us from bouncing streamers through pockets and using heavy nymph rigs as well.
In these elements, stumbled my roommate and lifelong friend. New to the sport, he was experiencing his first wild river and his first wild fish. I was hoping for him to have a "moment," when he connects to fly fishing and begins to "get it". Halfway through the day the rain stopped for an hour allowing a BWO emergence to take place. This was the moment I was looking for.
Fly fishing is filled with these types of moments, but at the heart of the sport is dry fly fishing. Few things can compare to a trout ascending from the depths and inspecting a few wraps of thread and feather upon a hook. It has been known to make grown men shake in the knees. On this day, it grabbed on and attached its barbs into my roommates soul.
My roommates improved casting allowed him to reach the risers. What followed was predictable for a beginners first dry fly experience. The first fish rose and took the fly, while my roommate simultaneously pulled it directly out of the fish's mouth. The second time, he waited just a little longer and was treated to a small head shake. The third time, the fish just flat out threw the hook. After each and every dismissal, screams echoed out of the ravine as my roomies enthusiasm bordered on anger and exclamations of, "this is awesome".
As the day came to a close, we were content with less fishing and more listening. The sound of the water sustained our minds, bodies, and souls for an entire day of fishing on no sleep. One of us stated, "I closed my eyes, listened to the water, and was the happiest man in the world...nothing can bring me down". With that, we headed to our camp site and made a fire. We cooked hot dogs wrapped and bacon over the embers and flames. We set our tents and fell asleep to the sound of nearby water. The water sustained us, without even trying.