I remember all too well the grind of working retail through the summer in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Don’t get me wrong, I loved helping folks catch fish, but by mid July my days off were worth more than gold. That’s why lately I’ve been getting my girl into some good fishing AND some relaxation. Granny will definitely need both to make it all the way through September.
Today I floated her and her pal, Jessica Chitwood (who also works retail in Jackson), on a long enjoyable trip on the Sveum River. Here the cutthroats, rainbows and brookies rise all day long to dry flies. While you can fish big bushy attractors all day and catch fish, the steady risers can be more selective. The ladies announced the selective fish didn’t fall into the “relaxing” department, so another Chernobyl day it was.
We met Jessica at 7 AM and after we used her car to do a shuttle we pushed off under a cloudless sky. During the first hour fishing was surprisingly slow. Other than a few little brookies, strikes on the big dries were few and far between. The early part of the day turned into a lot of anchor down rests with refreshing cold beverages – doesn’t really get any better!
At noon temps hovered around 90º. The heat under direct sun was really tough to handle. The only thing that broke it up was disturbing a huge velvety bull moose. He was so sneaky and motionless at first that Jesse nearly drifted her fly into his knee caps. Then he spooked and tore down the middle of the river. His water throwing sprint was an incredible sight. After that bit of action both girls hit the wall and were soon sound asleep in the boat. I beached the boat and went out wade fishing for about 45 minutes but only budged one good cutthroat.
By late afternoon the girls were back in the game. They were rested up and like flicking a switch; the fish were finally, after eight hours, on the hunt for hoppers and stoneflies. It was Chernobyl time and from 4 till 8 PM every good looking spot at least rolled a fish. Granny, as usual nailed a few good ones. Jessica on the other hand had some tough luck. I watched one of the largest trout I’ve seen on the Sveum River in ten years come up and eat Jesse’s fly. She lifted with a perfect hook set and her fly separated from her tippet so gracefully the fish didn’t even notice. I know the cutty didn’t notice for a fact because after he stole Jesse’s fly he ate Granny’s! Granny was fishing from the back and the same fish, only three seconds later, came up and ate Granny’s fly when he wasn’t even done chewing on Jesses! It was unbelievable. The difference however, Granny drove that hook deep and crossed this mighty cutthroats eyes and it was game on.
For several minutes Granny battled the heavily built cutty. Big cutties here don’t jump and they rarely run far, but they know where every log is and will test your tippet and the backbone of your rod like no other trying to break you off. Eventually Granny tired her prize. I leapt from the boat with the net and just as I approached him he opened his mouth wide, aimed directly at Granny and shook his head – the absolute best thing a big fish can do to get a hook to pull out. And her fly did. I was literally three feet from scooping him up but the detached monster sank then shot off to freedom. Talk about two bummed out fly fisherwomen!
Jesse fishes a lot. I thought she had some bad tippet or something because this large hungry trout broke her off with little or no pressure at all. I cut off her old and tied her on a piece of 0X and handed her a new fly to tie on herself. Ten minutes later she lost a fly while false casting. I knew something was up and when I looked at the end of her tippet there was the infamous pigtail. Her knot for tying on the fly was failing miserably and now was the time to find out why. I watched her do her next one and saw that she does an Improved Clinch Knot. You would think “Improved” would mean something. But I can tell you from my experience, as far as fly fishing goes, make life easier and simply use the Clinch Knot. For some reason I too once had problems with the Improved Clinch Knot, especially with light tippets. So screw the improved part. Jesse tied on the next fly with a Clinch Knot and for the rest of the evening there were no more problems, but unfortunately for Jesse, no more big fish opportunities.
Although a 12 hour float and I rowed the whole time, today was about as relaxing a summer day of fishing can be. We saw an enormous moose at close range that tore down the middle of the river and the ladies racked up an amazing total of between 40 and 45 fish. Most were indeed small but for them today was all about catching some fish and having a great time. I think we more than accomplished that!