I stood up tall with triumph, as I watched the fish disappear into the river.
“Fish the undercut banks...” I said, pointing them out, “... the fish hide there to protect themselves from predators, and will come out to eat.”
“Sounds good.” Dan said, and we split up to work different banks of the river.
I tied my mouse pattern back on again, and slammed it down on the banks in search of another big fish. The chances were slim to nil, but you never know. When mouse-ing, I tend to never throw in the same place twice. The thought behind that is if a fish is willing to eat the mouse, it will decide to eat it on its first opportunity. With this thought in mind I walked downstream, casting my mouse to different spots each time. Sometimes I would cast right on the bank and pull my mouse into the river like it had decided to take a swim; that's when a fish, bigger than the brown trout I had just caught, materialized out of nowhere, gunning for my mouse. It all happened in a second, and after one swipe it went back into hiding.
“Dan! Dan!” I called out, but got no response. I wanted him to have the opportunity to hook this fish, so I went looking for him. After a feeble attempt to find him, I went back to where the big fish was hiding. There was a very slim chance it would come after my mouse again, so I tied on my streamer and launched it in the home of the fish. My black streamer came racing out of the undercut bank with the fish right behind it. BUMP! I felt it hit, but I knew better than to set the hook now. BUMP! Again the fish hit my fly, but there was no solid connection. The fly was getting dangerously close to me, and if this fish saw me it would dart away and not come back out. “BOOM!” The fish moved in for the kill and nailed my fly only feet away from me.
The fish immediately knew it had done something wrong, and bolted back to its home. There was no stopping this fish. My reel screamed to life as the fish went deep under the bank for safety. I kept the line as tight as I dared to pull it back out, and continued the fight where there was less of a chance of getting a snag. The fish tired more quickly that the last, and so I held it at bay before I netted it.
It was hard to believe we had already spent the whole day fishing on the Gallatin, but it was time to head back.
We did run into some dry fly activity, which kept us on the water a bit longer. Dan hooked into a few cutthroat trout, but lost them in the fight. The hatch didn’t last long, so we continued back to the car. I could have easily stayed out until dark, but I knew if I did there would be hell to pay. This is suppose to be a family trip, I reminded myself, and after a quick calculation I realized I had just kidnapped my father-in-law for eight hours to do nothing but fish... There was no qualms about it, there will be hell to pay.