September 9, 2012
I was fresh and ready to finish the job of winning the One Fly for the “Good Times” team this morning. I slept fairly well. I munched a massive breakfast at The Lodge at Palisades Creek. I was extremely confident that the Scott Sanchez tied honey ant would catch me the six measurable fish I needed along with a whole bunch of two point dinks. My guide was Lee Moore of the South Fork Lodge. I’d never met Lee before but after a minute chatting I could tell he was good. My opponent was Simon Everett of Bermuda. You wouldn’t think a guy from Bermuda would know much about trout fishing, but let’s just say Simon gets around. Simon went with a black and white streamer of some sort.
Our One Fly stretch was the poor fishing Upper South Fork. We put in at the Huskey about two miles below the Palisades Dam. Simon took the front for starters and I watched him lay beautiful cast one after another hardly missing any of the fishy spots with his streamer. I followed behind with casts of my own but knew after the crash of his streamer not much would be left to look at my ant. Simon landed a 17” cutthroat five minutes into the day. I always cringe when a fish is landed within site of the boat launch. Fishing usually goes downhill, almost like it becomes jinxed. Well, it was. We didn’t see another fish for over two hours.
At 11:30 I switched to the front of the boat. I had one two pointer to my total score. Things were looking bad, yet I remained confident. A few bugs were starting to hatch and I know it only takes about 20 minutes to land six nice trout. They simply had to start feeding and I’d get them.
At 1 PM the hatch had dissipated and the big fish were still hiding. I’d lucked into nine two pointers from the front of the boat but that was it. I desperately needed some measurable trout. My best option was to start wading and covering every inch of water, something difficult to do from the boat. Simon had already shown he wasn’t much into wading but I was still up front. I hated to hinder him but it was my call. From 1 to 2 I did nothing but walk. As I aggressively fished up a fast flowing side channel a huge cutty sipped my ant. I stuck him good – I thought. He put on a much fiercer than the average cutthroat battle and led me into heavy water towards a log jam. I had no choice but to lean on the speckled fish and to my disgust my hook pulled loose. My first measurable fish was gone. I was steamed but there was no time to dwell on it. I went right back up to the same spot and landed a measly 12 incher. This late in the day I had no choice but to measure the 12 point fish.
Just before 2 I went on a wild march. Lee (who is essentially the judge and follows you with the net) and I were concerned that Simon was getting bored and possibly even upset with my out of boat fishing, but I was still in charge and I’d added a 13 incher to my card. I needed four more fish. That’s when I got my best fish of the day. I was casting upstream along a fast bank. I was working rapidly. My casts were short but efficient. I’d drift my fly then when it dragged I’d take two steps and cast again. I was methodically hitting every inch of water. That’s when a fantastic rainbow sipped my ant a rods length from me. I set and it was game on.
The last thing you need in the One Fly is a trout that wants to take you to the cleaners. This was a rainbow and unfortunately for me, he wanted to escape. He literally ran me all the way to the center of the main channel of the South Fork. There was no chasing him with the boat. That was parked too far away. I thought for sure I would lose my second beautiful measurable trout of the day. But this was not the case. I ran down stream, kept the pressure on and miraculously led him to Lee’s net. Moments later we measured the 18” rainbow.
The fishing part of the 2012 One Fly Contest came to a close at exactly 4 PM. I landed a total of 21 trout and measured only three today. I didn’t know for sure at the time, but I was pretty certain my first place overall finish was gone. It was. At the One Fly closing party in Jackson, Wyoming it was official. I’d dropped to 7th place overall and so did our team. Bummer! There was about a 125 point difference. If only I didn’t lose that big cutthroat earlier we may have had it.
Losing a close battle in the One Fly isn’t exactly a huge disappointment. The One Fly is fun and it raises a lot of money for the health of rivers. I was very pleased with our overall team performance and glad to get the award as top rod for Saturday. What was gut wrenching however was that my 20” big fish that claimed the award for Saturday was beaten by a 21” brown on Sunday. The $3900 that certainly would have been spent on some serious distant angling was gone. No!
I’m a little beat up from the last month with my unexpected time back east for Dads surgery and then right into the One Fly. Granny and I might wet a line on Tue or Wed but not for sure. We may just sit on the back porch. As for Dad, Mom says he’s about the same, perhaps a tiny bit better. He took a fall on Saturday night at the rehab center but he seems to be ok. I’ll definitely continue to update his progress.