Day 2 of the Jackson Hole One Fly started brilliantly for me in doing my part to help the Good Times Team finish solid. Just like yesterday, I fished a cinnamon ant, only today’s ant was a size smaller, an 18 because I was on the South Fork of the Snake in Idaho. Here the trout eat small stuff regularly and reject flies if they are too big.
Now remember, if you lose your fly you’re done. Or if the pattern falls apart and looks so bad that you can’t catch fish anymore you’re basically done. I wasn’t worried about losing my fly, I’m confident in my casting skills and I also managed to squeeze 1X through the tiny eye. But damaging the fly with all the fish I planned to catch was a worry.
At 8:30 AM our boat pushed off. My guide, Rollie Towler was a young 20 year old Swan Valley, Idaho local that knows the South Fork as good as most veterans. My boat mate and competitor of an opposing team, Phil Rever, was a cool guy from Florida in about his mid 60’s. When I say cool, he had the same attitude as me – the best thing for our boat was that we both kick butt and have a great day of fishing together. Phil fished Rollies recommendation of a PMD emerger size 18.
It took less than three minutes to land my first fish and an hour later, I had nearly a dozen and Phil had a big fish, a 17” brown that gave him considerable bonus points. Things were going exceptional. What was especially great for us was that morning fishing on the South Fork is considered poor because the hatches don’t start till about 1 PM. So here we were doing well early and the good fishing had yet to start.
By noon, I too had some bonus fish. Basically the way the scoring works is that all fish are worth two points (by the way, all fish are released). In addition to the two pointers you’re allowed to measure eight fish, six of which earn you bonus points. The bigger the trout, the more bonus points you receive. Phil’s 17 incher earned him 80 points. My bonus fish so far were 16 inches (60 points) and 15 inches (40 points). These nice cutthroats came so easy that I released two nice fish around 15 inches without measuring them because I just knew I’d catch six more much bigger. I was truly out to make the kill today!
Around noon Rollie and I spotted a huge bank feeding cutthroat. If this fish was less than 18 inches I’d be surprised. He was such a beast that he would earn me at least 100 points if I caught him. Rollie dropped anchor and I leaped out of the boat. On my pursuit after him I stumbled into a large rainbow. Good news for me right? Well, sort of. Rainbows fight harder than the cuttys and this guy was no exception. With no fear of breaking my 1X tippet I put the heat on him and brought the feisty fish near the net in seconds. The bow was in heavy water below me and I could hardly move him. Rollie made a move with the net and the rainbow surged and got off. A bummer I thought, but not the end of the world. I still had a huge cutty to catch. And my ant was working so good there would be plenty more for big fish for me to catch. Remember, the good fishing hadn’t even started.
Little did I know it, but that spirited rainbow damaged my fly. In the next ten minutes I hooked and lost three more big fish. I hooked them, fought them for about ten seconds and they were off – talk about frustrating. I flipped my fly to my hand to check it and the hook gap was opened slightly. It was from the massive pressure I put on the “not ready to land” rainbow. Not cool, but a situation that happens and you simply bend the hook back. So, I pulled out my forceps and delicately began the procedure and with hardly any pressure at all my hook snapped. My hook snapped! I was finished!
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a competitive dude. Breaking my hook in my own little hands was a tough one to swallow. But as I get older I realize how little these things are. Sure I was incredibly bummed, especially because my team was counting on me, but it happened and I couldn’t look back. I popped back to back beers from the cooler and an hour later I tied on another of the same fly. Of course my results wouldn’t count but it would be cool just to see how I “would have done” had my hook not broke. Well, that ant absolutely crushed the big fish. I hardly fished as to stay out of Phil’s way so he could have chance to kick butt, but every nice fish I cast the ant at ate it. I would have absolutely destroyed the fish today and led the team to glory. Damn!
Granny and I just got home from the One Fly celebration party. The One Fly is now officially over. I’m so exhausted I can’t explain it. Competitive fishing is as fun as it gets but it really takes it out of you. And it’s not just the fishing. I get so amped up with the fun of seeing old friends that come to Jackson, Wyoming just once a year for this great event. What a great time. I will work and rest for only a couple days, then on Wednesday my best friends from college arrive for a week of camping and fishing. Stay tuned. . .