Monday, December 4, 2017

Fishing the Governor's Pond: Project Healing Water's Boise Idaho Chapter

"Hey Erik!" The all-too-familiar voice of Dick Frencer said over the phone, "Did you hear the news?!"
"What's that?" I asked.
"I won the raffle with Project Healing Waters!" Dick said, almost yelling into the phone.
"The one where you get to fish the governor's pond?" I asked.
"Yeaaaaaaaah." He happily replied.
"Well, that also means that I didn't win." I said laughing.
"Well... Did you know..." Dick paused between every word, with true Dick Frencer style, "...that I get to invite a BUDDY to fish with me."
"I saw that in the description that they were going to pick two people, and each person gets to bring a buddy to fish with them..."
"Yeaaaaaaaah..." Dick said, cooly, "and you know what I was thinking?"
"What's that?" I said.
"I was thinking that youuuuu are a buddy of miiiiiine..." He said softly, drawing our the vowels in the words he wanted emphasized.
"I am?" I said happily, knowing where this was going.
"I was also thinking, that youuuuu are a damn good fly fisherrrrrrr." He said, in that same cool voice.
"That's the rumor."
"Well, if you are not too bussyyyyyyyy, then maybe you would want to go fish the governor's pond with meeeeeee."
Although we were talking over the phone, I could clearly imagine the smile on his face, along with the twitching of his mustache, as he proudly invited me. The image made me laugh out loud, and when I was done laughing, I obviously said yes.

It was long-time buddy Terry Kowallis who organized the fundraiser for the local Project Healing Waters chapter, and every dime made from the fundraiser would be used to provide gear, food and beverages, along with a port-a-potty for the local events.
"So how did you get the governor's pond?" I asked Terry as Dick and I stepped out of the car on the day of the event.
"Well, I kind of knew somebody who knew somebody." He said, as we walked over to the BBQ dinner they had set out for us.
"Well this is a pretty cool opportunity." I said.
"Yeah, and I brought a little something to share at the end of the day." Dick said, with a smile.

We stepped onto the patio where we were greeted by Marcy and Kylie Kowalis, who had laid out dinner for the evening. They had Cutter's Grand BBQ catered tri tip with the trimmings, along with a homemade brownie that would stop your heart with the amount of love that was put into it. Having this kind of a dinner should be prize enough for winning, but the best had yet to come... soon we would get to fish.

It was Dick Frencer and Linda Jones who one the two raffle prizes of the evening, so before we hit the water the two winners got celebratory pictures together.

"Alright Dick, you and Erik are in my boat!" Terry said happily, as he brought the boat close to the shore, making it easy for Dick to get in. Jay was the other gentleman with a boat who was rowing Linda and her husband out to fish, and once everyone was situated it was game on.

Dick got in the front of the boat with a popper the size of a Sprite can.
"Jeez, Terry. Will they hit this monstrosity?" I asked, as he handed me another colossal popper to tie on.
"You bet they will! Think of it as a dinner bell... The bigger the bell the bigger the fish!" He said with a laugh.

I gunned the monster-popper at the bank, and to my surprise it was not too difficult to cast. I flicked my rod to give it a typical POP, but there was nothing typical about the POP of this popper.
"Oh my God!" I said laughing. "They could use this thing at the local water park in the wave pool!"
Terry started to laugh... "Just give it a try!" He said confidently.
I pitched my fly back in the throat of a cluster of overhanging pine limbs and gave my fly a subtle, if you could call it that, pop...
"Whoa!" I yelled, and set the hook, ripping the bass from its lair.
"What did I tell ya?! Didn't I tell you that would work? Dang kids never believe me!" Terry said.
"Oh I believe you now!" I said, watching my bass fly from the water.
After a fun fight the bass was ready to come in, and I was able to lip it for a picture.

"Good job, Erik." Dick said, watching from the front seat. "I didn't think you liked catching carp that much..." He said with a straight face.
Both Terry and I started laughing, as Dick turned back to continue fishing. 

My black club of a popper flew again deep into the mouth of a branch-made cave, and with a subtle pop came another bass.

"How am I missing those?" Dick asked, having just cast to the same spot before me.
"I am getting way back there, almost dangerously back, where I might snag a tree limb...that's where they are." I said, coming up on another great looking bass home.
"Throw it in there, I want to see what you're talking about." Dick requested, watching as I made my cast. I pulled back on the fly rod, adding a haul to generate line speed, and shot the rod tip forward, creating a sharp arch that sent my popper in deep.
"Oh no!" Terry said, "You got it stuck! You don't want to do that, Dick."
"Hold on!" I said, "It's not stuck yet..."
I could see the line resting just over a branch deep in the pocket, and delicately pulled on the line bringing the popper up on the other side of the branch. With one last pull the large popper fell over the branch without getting stuck, and plopped onto the water.
"Oh man! That fish hit as soon as that popper hit the water! That was cool!" Terry yelled with excitement.
"That was all luck!" I said. "But still, I would like a picture with my fish." Terry brought out his camera and when I had the fish in I held it up for a shot.

"Okay, Dick it's your turn!" Terry said, putting down his camera.
"No, don't worry about me, I am happy to be out here with you guys." He said, casting his popper.
Off in the distance we could hear Jay's boat having some success as well; the sounds of cheering echoed over the pond.
"Okay guys, when you catch a fish we need to cheer louder than that." Terry said, and it wasn't long before we got the opportunity.

"Let's go try out the cove near the Otter house." Terry said, rowing us towards the governor's home.
"They don't mind us getting close?" I asked.
"Nope, they were all for it." Terry said. Just then Governor Otter came out of his house and, after moving some stuff around, looked over and waved to us.
"You guys catching fish?" The governor asked happily.
"Yeah, we're doing alright!" Terry hollered back.
"Well good! Stay out as long as you want." He said before giving us a final wave and heading back into his house.
"He doesn't know us very well, does he?" I said with a laugh looking back at Terry and Dick.
"You thinking of staying all night?" Terry asked.
"Well there goes Erik getting us in trouble." Terry laughed, but then Dick spoke up.
"Erik!" Dick said sharply.
I looked over at him.
"Do you think you could hit the front window with your fly?" Dick asked.
I looked over to the house, witch was only about 60 feet away.
"Yes." I said.
"I will donate another $100 to Healing Waters if you hit the window." Dick said with smirk that made his mustache twitch with delight.
I smiled brightly and started to laugh, as Terry suddenly started oaring us away from the house.
"Come on, Erik, we are getting further away." Dick's mustache twitched, suppressing a smile.
I smiled even brighter, as Terry pulled a bit harder on the oars.
"$200!" Dick said firmly, as if making a final bid at a live auction. "And you know I'm good for it..."
"$200 for the org, Terry!" I said with a smile.
"You guys are going to get me in trouble." He said.
"Naaaa, we are just having fun..." Dick coolly, and was that a smile on his face?

A few of my laser-beam casts ended up hooking some foliage deep in a pocket, and when it happened Terry would turn the boat around and push me into the branches so that I could unhook the popper. Still, it was worth getting the fly as far back as possible, simply because that's where the fish were. I set the hook on another take deep in the shadows.
Crack! Snap!
"Oh geez!" I yelled, as the fish thrashed so hard it was breaking surrounding twigs.
"This is a big fish guys!" But that much was obvious. The bass came out of the shadows into the air, showing off its size. It struggled hard to get back in the overgrowth, and the fly line burnt my hands as I held it back from its home.  Terry plunged his net into the water so fast that the fish was netted before it had time to be spooked by the movement.
"We are definitely getting a picture of this one; it was not going to get away!" Terry said, reaching for his camera.

"Okay, Terry. It's your turn to fish." I said, after dipping my fish back into the water.
"You don't have to let me fish, you're the winner's guest."
"I always had intended to let the person who was going to row us fish."
"Well, it has to be okay with Dick."
"What do you say, Dick?" I asked.
"Okay with me!" He said happily, and Terry hopped out from behind the sticks and was into a fish in no time.

Terry and I have fished together many times, and while we fish we play baseball: we get three attempts to catch a fish, and if the guy fishing messes up three times, you are out and back behind the sticks. In this case, Terry caught three fish very quickly allowing me to get back to the casting seat. Despite both Terry and my success, Dick was way overdue to catch a fish.
“Okay Dick we are going to stop fishing until you catch a fish.” Terry said, but Dick would have none of that.
“No, Erik, you keep fishing! Don’t worry about me.” He said, but that’s not how Terry and I play. Sure we both hoped to catch fish, but it isn’t a good day until everyone catches fish.
We had just left what I would consider the “better looking” water, so I held off casting until I could find some structure. Dick, on the other hand, kept at it.
The sudden sounds of water erupting caught both Terry’s and my attention, and surprise lit both our faces when Dick’s rod was doubled over with a fighting fish.
“That’s the way it’s done, Dick!” I yelled out in excitement.
“I was rowing faster by that water, thinking it wouldn’t be holding fish.” Terry said, grabbing the net. The bass at the end of Dick's line was putting on quite a show, and from my angler it looked like Dick was holding on for the ride. With one final heave, Dick brought the fish up and Terry scooped it up with the net.

“Nice fish!” I said, snapping some pictures.
“You think so?” Dick asked, with a smirk. He was playing it cool, like it was no big deal that he just got into the fish, but after knowing Dick for as long as I have, I knew he was swelling with pride.

He let the fish go gently, and watched it turn and swim away before gathering his line back together to continue fishing. Both Terry and I were also happy to see Dick bring in a fish, making the day a good day for all. Just before I had time to make a cast after Dick’s fish, both Terry and I were distracted again by another thrashing fish off to our left...
“Another one, Dick!?” Terry yelled.
“Yep!” He said back happily.
“Dang, Dick! Two casts two fish!” I said happily, handing the net back to Terry to help land the fish.

“I’m a little disappointed in this fish...” Dick said.  Both Terry and I looked over at him with a bit of concern which is exactly what Dick wanted.
“I was hoping it was a carp.” He said.
“Get out of here!” I said smiling, and Dick released his fish, laughing at his own joke.

We ended the evening with everyone on the boat happy to bring in a few fish for the day.
“Dick, let's get a picture together.” I said, handing Terry my camera.
“Okay, smile.” Terry said.
“Dick, you are not smiling.” Terry said after a few pictures.
“Let me see...” I said, grabbing the camera and looking back through the pictures.
“You look like you are a member of the Mob.” I said to Dick... And I think he liked the thought.
“Here, Terry, take one more please. And this time no smiles, I’m with Dick Frencer the Mob Boss.” So Terry took one last picture of us, with no smiles.

The drift boats were all saddled back up in their trailers, but before we were to set off for the night, Dick had one last treat.

Dick explained the significance of this particular type of scotch, which most were able to follow, but this kind of drink is completely wasted on me.  I am not that much of a drinker, mainly because I can't stand the taste of alcohol. Still, Dick was proud to share it with us, and when it came to offering me some I said "I'll take a splash."

Frank, Lori Otter's brother, who was there to make sure our event went well, took a glass and both he and Dick exchanged their thoughts on the smoothness of the drink. I on the other hand kept my mouth shut, because to me it tasted like something I would use to remove permanent marker from a school desk... Not that I have ever had to do that...still, my one-finger pour, that was more the size of a pinky, seemed to never go away.

Knowing it would not be socially acceptable to just dump the drink on the ground I held my breath, and took the rest in one gulp.
"You know you are supposed to sip it..." Dick said, looking at me funny.
"Yeah, well..." I said with a choke, "You would have been pissed if I would have dumped it." I said.
Dick let out a loud laugh, and held up his drink to me as a solute of accomplishment. We all stood around talking about fishing and hunting for another hour or more before Terry spoke up.
"Well, Frank, we better get out of your hair. Thank you for helping us with our event." he said, and shook Frank's hand.
"Hey, any time! Hope you can do it again next year." Frank said, and shook our hands.
Dick handed me the keys to his SUV, having had a few more finger pours than I, and he told me about his excitement of catching a few bass this evening.
"It's been over two years since I have been able to get out fly fishing." He told me.
"Yep. And I am happy you were here with me to enjoy the evening."
"Hey, thanks for inviting me along. It was a great time." I said, and we drove home, going over the details of the evening and his success catching bass.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Father's Day

Fly fishing new rivers always pumps me up, and this time was no different. Tyler Steffens, a good friend and fly fishing enthusiast in Washington, is one of my only buddies from back home who is as much of a nut about fly fishing as I am. And therefore has taken the time to discover new waters that most people would overlook. He had me so fired up about this river he was taking me to that we both agreed we would hit the road at 6am. However, as I pulled up in front of his house at 6am ready for a day of fly fishing, there was no Tyler to be found...
After a few text messages with no response it was time to make a call.
"Yeah..." Tyler said, answering the phone. His tone of voice was that of a person who had just been woken buy the ringing of his phone, yet desperately trying to make it not seem like he had just been woken by the ringing of his phone.
"Dude, I am right outside your house ready to go." I said.
"YOU'RE HERE?!" Tyler said, almost with a screech.
"Yeah, man, and ready to go."
"Oh no! Oh, man... I just woke up..."
"You don't say."
"Oh, sorry man... Tell you what..." Tyler said, as I heard the sounds of shuffling through the receiver.
"You go get yourself some breakfast, coffee, or whatever, and I'll be ready when you get back!"
"Alright...and no rush we have all day." I said before hanging up the phone.

A Venti Cool Lime Refresher is my drink of choice, and on my way back to Tyler's he called to say he was now ready to go.
"Dude, I am so sorry." Tyler said, as he threw his stuff in the truck.
"It's okay, man. Though it would have been nice to sleep in!" I said.
"Yeah..." Tyler said, then looked over at me more seriously...
"You better leave this part out of your blog!" He said.
"I will, bro... don't worry." I lied.

We were soon out of the highland-desert and into the rich, thick forest that makes Washington the evergreen state. The smell of pine filled the air, and the clarity of the water had Tyler and I racing to gear up. Once ready we stood on the shoreline looking at the pristine water, and Tyler turned to me, holding up his hand.
"Happy Father's Day, man!"
"Happy Father's Day to you too!" And with a high five we started our day.

"This looks like a nice stretch for dry fly fishing." I said, walking up to a flat stretch of water.
"Let's hit it!" Tyler said, and unlatched his fly to make a cast.

Tyler was armed with a Redington Butter Stick, which has the delicate soft action to perform some of the most soft presentations if in the right hands. Tyler gave the rod a flick and his line soared in a perfect arch to its destination. The fly landed with a delicate touch that was most worthy of a fish, but nothing came up. 

Although Tyler was getting no love, I couldn't pass up water that looked this good. It took us a while to tear ourselves away from the long flat stretch of water to continue upstream.
"Hey, what is an E-Burg Blue stone?" I asked Tyler as we walked up.
"It's a blue stone only found in this region of the world, why?" He said.
"My buddy, Pat Britinstine, mentioned we could find then up here."
"Oh Pat! Yeah he's a good guy."
"Well, I'm also looking for one." I said, which made Tyler laugh.
"Dude, you are probably not going to find one here. I think we are outside of the range where that rock exists."
"Well, Pat seemed to think they were up on this stretch of water."
"Good luck, man. Keep your eyes open."
"I will. And I also told Pat we would catch him a fish. Let's dedicate the smallest fish to Pat." I said, walking up to a deep hole next to the bank.
"Sounds good to me." Tyler said with a laugh.
Tyler held back to give me the first crack at the new piece of water, and on a wayward cast I sent my fly up into a low hanging branch.
"What the hell was that?" Tyler yelled over to me.
I looked over to see he had been watching me.
"Damn, I was hoping you didn't see that." I said, tugging on the fly.
"Are you going to break it off?"
"Well, I already fished the hell out of this spot with no love. So screw it!" I said, and walked into the deeper stretch to blow out the hole and save my flies.

"This is the farthest I have ever walked up on this river." Tyler said, looking around.
"We haven't caught one fish yet, so I'm thinking we should head to the lower stretch." He continued.
"I'm good with that." I said, as we started back downstream.

"What are you throwing?!" Tyler asked, after watching my fly hit the water like a wet bat.
"It's a Dalai Lama by brother gave me."
"That thing is huge."
"Well, I figured they were not coming up for dries or hitting nymphs below... So if there is a fish here maybe they will come out for some meat!"
"Sounds good, brotha!" Tyler said, as we continued downstream.
I hucked my streamer at every undercut with nothing to show for my efforts.  Some of the undercuts on the river had to have reached back three to five feet under the bank. They were the deepest undercuts I had ever seen, and they were guarded by thick roots that acted like a thick fence, keeping my fly out of a trout's radar. I still gunned for those undercuts with my fly slapping down so close to the bank it had to attract something.
A flash caught my eye under the water, and all the weight of a strike was present.
"TYLER!" I yelled, as my fly rod danced with a fish.
"YEAAAAAAAH BUDDY!" Tyler yelled back, running up to me to assist.
"He's a fighter, Tyler! He's a fighter!" I said, grinning like a hungry cat.
The fish darted around, but I had it hooked good. After it was tired I held the line and snapped a few underwater shots of the fish with the hopes one would turn out.

"I think you got enough pictures of the fish." Tyler said.
"You would be surprised. I bet out of those hundred or so shots, only four or five turn out."
"Yep! The damn things don't like to stay still, so I get a lot of blurry shots. Still..." I said, reaching for my forceps. "I get my shots all while keeping the fish under water, and..." I said, using my forceps to take the barb-less hook out of the fish's mouth, "...I never have to touch the fish".
The once hooked trout took off with a flash back to its home, and Tyler and I continued downstream.

Fishing on the way back to the truck turned up nothing, so we hopped out of the river to drive out of the high country and into the highland-desert.

Grasshoppers hopped away from us, with some flying away as we walked to the river. This got us excited for some top water action, and the river didn't disappoint. Tyler was into a fish within a few casts and was able to bring it to the net.
"Is it a nice fish?" I asked from a-far.
"Dude, I think we can call this one Pat's fish." Tyler said with a laugh.
"Well in that case we better take a picture." I said, pulling out my camera to snap a shot.

I too was successful with a dry fly, but sadly the only fish willing to rise were the size of Pat's fish. Tyler started to nymph and hooked into a something big.
"Erik! I may need some help!" I heard Tyler yell upstream to me. His voice was almost drowned out by the river, but it was enough to get my attention. 
"You better not lose it when I get there!" I yelled back, and started to wade downstream to Tyler.

Tyler's Butter Stick looked to be on the edge of snapping in half as he kept pressure on the fish. Just as I got near him, his rod shot straight, lifeless.
"NOOOOOOOO!!!!" Tyler yelled, and ripped the hat from his head and threw it at the ground.
"Damn it, Tyler!" I said, now standing a few feet away.
"Dude, it was such a big fish. It would have been the fish of the day..." He said, still looking at the ground, holding his fly rod that was once full of life.
"I knew you were going to screw it up, and just as I was close enough to help." I said, as Tyler held out his hand with a gesture suggesting I could shut up any time...

The sting of losing a fish is all too familiar, but the untouched riffle upstream helped Tyler get over it. He was back at it, nymphing with his full flex Butter Stick, which was quite the sight to see. In order for him to make a decent cast with nymphs and an indicator, Tyler had to move his entire body to get the full flex rod to perform the cast needed for a decent drift. Despite the awkward movement, it was paying off. Tyler's indicator shot under, and he wrenched back to hook into another sizeable fish. This time the fish made its size visible by rocketing out of the water several times, as I stood ready with the net. The fish was now in plain sight and less than an arms-length away when the fly sprang from its mouth just before it was netted. 

Tyler didn't say a word, he just dropped his arms to his side, not believing he had lost another great fish.
"Well, way to lose another one." I said with a sigh.
"Dude? If you were a little bit faster with the net..."
"Whatever, that fish was way too hot to net. It had to have jumped over five times."
"I know! It put up quite the fight!" Tyler said, his mood lightening with the memory.
I hooked my net to my back and started to continue my hike upstream when Tyler stopped me.
"What time is it? My phone is dead." He said.
I pulled my phone out and said, "It's a quarter to five."
"OH NO! We have to go, I told my wife I would be back by six!" He said, worried. And on that note, we turned and headed back to the truck. We had easily walked a mile upstream, and there was no way we were going to get back to Moses Lake by 6 pm.
"Didn't my wife say something to you about 7pm?" Tyler asked.
"Actually, she said 7:30..." I said with a raised eyebrow.
"Well then there's time to hit that hole really quick." Tyler said, and started to fish.

Tyler had hooked his last fish of the day, and this time was able to bring it to the net. After that is was definitely time to head back to the truck, so we clipped our flies from our line to keep us from doing more fishing.
With our gear all packed away, we started on our way home. We had burned up a little more time fishing on our "rush" back to the truck. Still, we were going to make it hone before 7:15pm, which was pretty good in my book.
"How much do I owe you for gas?" Tyler asked, pulling out his wallet.
"You know what, my dad took care of gas for us today for Father's Day."
"Seriously?! Your dad is awesome!" Tyler said, happily.
"Yeah, he really is..." I said, and we drove back home from a great Father's Day adventure.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Breakfast Before Fly Fishing

"Do you sell Oatmeal?" Travis Swartz asked the barista working at the Starbucks located inside the local Missoula grocery store.
"Yes we do." She replied with a smile, so the three of us ordered blueberry oatmeal for breakfast before heading out to fish. I say three because we were joined by Travis Steven-Jones (Trav), an outfitter gentleman we met as a buddy through Reel Recovery. Trav has fished with us before. In fact, it was both Travis and Trav who were there when I thought a moose was chasing me; a story they both love to tell.
Travis stepped away from the Starbucks kiosk to pick up a few things from the store, and while he was looking around I got the attention of the young barista on the other side of the counter.
"Can you do me a favor?" I asked. Her eyes locked onto me which was an obvious yes.
"Our buddy over there..." I pointed to Travis who was carrying about ten items in his hands headed towards the checkout counter, "He is a fly fishing YouTube sensation. If you are into fly fishing, there is a good chance you know who he is." I said metaphorically.
"Could you pretend to have seen him before, and ask him questions like, 'do I know you?', 'how do I know you?', and no matter what he says, say 'no that's not it'?"
"Do it!" A second enthusiastic barista said from behind the counter.
"Okay, I'll do it!" She said with a smile, and casually went back to fixing our oatmeal.

"Here he comes..." Trav said, watching Travis approach.
As the barista handed us our oatmeal she paused on Travis.
"You know, I was thinking... do I know you from somewhere? You look familiar..."
Her tone of voice could have fooled Scorsese.
"I don't know?!" Travis said, taking the bait..."Do you fly fish?"
"Noooo... Are you in a movie or something?" She replied, sounding like she would have taken him home if she had the chance.
"Yeah, a few." Travis happily answered.
 I looked over to Trav, and he was fighting a smile, and so was I.
"Most people recognize me from the fly fishing videos I do." Travis said, eating up the conversation.
"Just go to and you will say, 'oh that's that idiot I met at work.'" Travis said, making everyone laugh.
"Hmm. Maybe I will have to do that later today." She said.
"Yeah!" Travis said back, but it was time to get going.
"Thank you." Travis said along with Trav as we turned to walk out of the store.
Now this type of thing happens a lot with Travis, as you can expect, so I can't really say that I tricked him. Still, being recognized by a young barista at Starbucks is a nice way to start off your day. "Thank you." I said, and slipped a few bucks in the tip jar before following the guys out to the car.

Although the extra time spent at the Starbucks was precious fishing time, it was worth giving up. Now that we had our fun, we wasted no time getting to the water.

A small fingerling of the Bitterroot River was the spot of choice, suggested by Trav, who had lived in Missoula in the past. His recommendation was spot on. The water was slightly risen due to runoff, but this stretch of water was easily wadeable.  

Both Trav and I were into fish almost immediately when we started fishing, but Travis had to fish a dry fly.

Although a little early in the year to be searching with a dry fly, in my book, the guy willing to throw a dry gets first crack at any decent looking water we come to. Although I was catching fish on my nymph rig, I would have loved to see some top water action.

The three of us walked upstream a ways, with Trav and Travis walking up river-right, and me on river-left. I was slightly ahead of them, walking up a long deeper stretch of water when SPLASH! It was unmistakable, a fish had just rose right next to me. I immediately backed off from the riverbank and got the attention of Travis from the other side of the river.

“Do you still have your dry fly on? I just saw a fish rise.”
“Seriously?” Travis asked, now paying closer attention to the water.
“Yeah, it was just in that slack-water twenty feet out from that broken branch.” I said, pointing with my fly rod.
Travis didn’t waste any time. He unfastened his dry fly from his rod and started fishing the water I had suggested. His first cast landed his fly ever so delicately on the surface of the water; such form and precision.
"Well who the hell are you?" I said with bewilderment to Travis. "Look at that cast! Perfect form, stopped the fly rod at the right angle to allow his fly to land softly, and plenty of slack line for mending. I would just say a few more feet out is where I saw it rise."
Sadly, nothing was coming up. I started walking downstream to a safer place to cross to join Trav and Travis on the other side.
"There he is! There he is!" I heard as I was on my way to join them. I looked up to see that Travis was hooked into a fish.

"No way! It came up?" I asked.
"Yeah, man. Travis just kept throwing it where you pointed, and it finally came up." Said Trav.
"Your damn right it came up!" Yelled Travis as he fought his fish.
Everything I said to Travis against dry fly fishing that morning came back out ten fold.
"It's too early for a dry fly... If I were you I'd start off with a nymph... You're probably not going to catch anything this early in the year with that gray drake on..." Travis said in a deep, dumb voice.
"Whatever, I don't even sound like that!" Was all I could think to say back.

Although Trav and I were easily ten fish in for the day, that one fish Travis caught on his dry fly kept him a purist for the rest of the day.  We walked upstream for a ways longer, occasionally seeing a gray drake fluttering around, but nothing we would call a hatch... until we started on our way back downstream.


The once calm stretch of water turned into a small riffle of feeding fish, and I had built out my leader for a dry fly in seconds.  Trav was downstream and out of sight as Travis was keyed into a rising fish just upstream from me. I was searching through my fly boxes frantically in the hope that I had a gray drake. The gray drake is a bug that doesn't hatch near Boise, that I have discovered, and therefore I had none.

I watched as the fish refused every kind of green and brown drake I had to offer, with Travis upstream having just as much luck as I.
"What the hell are these fish taking?!" Travis yelled, obviously not happy.
"This is the part of fly fishing that those videos don't capture. The part where you want a fish so bad, and they are taking nothing. It just pisses you off!" He yelled.
"I understand..." I said, listing off all the flies I had tried with no success.  The drake hatch was starting to peter-off and we had no fish to our nets. 

"It looks like this fish is eating emergers, and is performing a complex rise. That means I will need a long undisturbed drift starting from up there.” I said pointing...“That's if we can find right fly.”
“I have actually been throwing gray drakes and they are not taking those either.” Travis said.
"Well damn!” I said, and opened my box to look for anything that resembled an emerging gray drake.
"My caddis box!" It was my only hope. I started looking over the CDC winged caddis I had there and smirked when I glanced over a particular one... “I wonder...?” 
I plucked out a fly and tied it on. I targeted a fish that had been refusing my flies for a long while now, and thought how sweet would it be to finally hook it? My fly drifted down to where the fish was feeding and with a small blop sound, it was gone.
“THANK YOU SILVIA!” I said setting the hook, and the fish erupted out of the water. 


“What did it take?” Travis asked immediately.
“A special fly given to me by my Canadian friend, Silvia. It’s a sparsely tied size ten CDC caddis. You would almost think it was supposed to be a mayfly, but Silvia schooled me with it while fishing a few year back...”
“Yeah, yeah, I didn’t ask for a story.  Do you have another one?” Travis interrupted.
“It's always all about you... Yes, I have two more left.” I said, still fighting the trout. “I’ll give you one as soon as I get in this trout.”
The trout flew out of the water again and again... “Look at this fish, it’s hot! It’s a hot fish! IT'S A HOT JUMPING FISH, TRAVIS!” I yelled with a laugh. Travis was right there with his net ready to scoop up the fish as soon as I could get it near him.
“Get ready, Travis... Get ready.” I said, as I added torque to the fly rod, bringing the fish right at Travis. Travis plunged his net into the water and under the fish lifting it out of the water, but the fish would have none of it. It darted out of Travis’s net so that when he went to lift it up, it was teetering on the rim of his net. Travis brought up the net fast, flinging the fish up and practically flinging it back into the water.
“TRAVIS WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I screamed, as he tried to regain control of his net.
"Yes I see it!” Travis replied and stabbed his net into the water right in front of the fish. This sudden aggressive move by Travis caused him to be off balance, and his right foot slipped slightly out from under him. Travis quickly regained his balance, but the fish had evaded his second attempt to be netted. The fish slipped by the net and darted downstream right in-between Travis’s legs.
“JESUS CHRIST, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I screamed, as my line was now getting tangled in Travis's foot.
“I slipped.. Oh and I’M FINE BY THE WAY!" He yelled back. Despite his laughter, Travis lifted his foot and my line slipped under his leg and was free again.
“Okay, this time try NOT netting the fish!” I said, but by now we were both laughing so hard that it didn’t matter if we got the fish or not. If the fish was going to come unbuttoned, it would have happened a long time ago; and with attempt number three Travis got into position and scooped up the fish.


“It feels good to finally get this fish!” I said. We both watched as it slipped away, then started laughing at what a fiasco it was to net the thing.
“Now, give me one of those flies.” Travis said, getting up. I handed him one of the three flies I had left in my box, then started to gather my equipment back together.


By the time I was ready to fish again I saw that Travis was downstream with Trav. Trav was laying on some grass and had pointed out a fish to Travis.
“It won’t eat anything I throw at it.” Trav said, watching Travis peeling off line to make a cast.
“Well, I may have found the fly we need.” I said, as Travis made a cast.  There was a fish rising in front of him, and it was only a matter of time before...WAM!


“There it is!” I yelled, as Travis started to fight his fish.
“Oh hell, don’t go that way.” Travis said to his fish, who had made a hard run directly downstream and into some faster current.
“Want help netting the fish?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’ll probably need it since it's in the fast current.” Travis said, as the fish took more line from his reel.
“You better hurry up and get down there...” Travis said to me as line started flying out of his reel.  I got a net from Trav, and waded downstream from Travis’s hooked fish.
“Oh no, what have I done? I let him go too far down into that crap!” Travis said, as he started to wade downstream into the current to keep up with his fish.

Just upstream from me I could see Travis’s fish darting around underwater. I had the net ready, but this fish still had plenty of fight left in it. With the current on the side of the fish all Travis could do was keep heavy tension to keep it from moving too far downstream.
"I'm going to spook it back your way!" I yelled up to Travis, half jokingly, but just being downstream kept the fish from going further.
"Net it!" Travis yelled, but there was no way. I had a large net and the speed of the current kept me from making a swift scoop.
"Can you bring the head up?" I asked, but Travis already had tension on the fish to the point of snapping the line.
"Are you kidding?" Travis asked.
"It's too deep to net."
"Well try anyway!" Travis yelled, so I did. I jammed the net underwater to capture the fish, but my movements were nearly in slow-motion due to the current. I scooped left and right, both movements were easily parried by the fish, and that just seemed to upset the fish further.
"What the HELL are you doing?!" Travis yelled at me, as the fish ran to the other side of the river.
"The fish is too hot to net!" I yelled back, but the fish made a mistake. It swam away hard to the opposite bank, but the current was much slower there and now Travis was in control.
"Oh I got 'em now!" He yelled, as the fish finally flopped around at the surface. It was net-able now; I just had to get to it. I sloshed my way over as fast as I could, which I'm sure looked like a Jesus Christ lizard only much less graceful. Travis was holding the fly rod up so high you would think he was summoning lightning from the sky, but it was what needed to happen in order to bring in his fish. I was out of breath when I reached the fish, but this time the fish did not evade me.
"There it is BABY!" I yelled lifting the fish into the net.
"Woo hooo!" Trav called, as he watched from the bank.
"Oh My God!" Travis said with a sigh, as he lowered his fly rod and massaged his right forearm.

"This is a nice fish." I said with a smile, while snapping a picture.
"Hell yeah it's a nice fish." Travis reiterated, while dipping his fish underwater to let it go. The fish darted away, and Travis stood to watch it, still nursing his forearm.
"Come on, the fish are still rising." I said, and grabbed my fly rod that was ready with a dry fly.

Together the three of us headed back downstream, and took turns catching fish along the way. The fish were so willing to hit a dry fly at this point that, sometimes only one cast was needed.

"What a great way to end the day." I said, after catching my last fish.
"I know, and look..." Travis pointed, "They are still rising." Both Trav and Travis were already geared down and waiting for me at the car. On my way back I had found one last rising fish that I HAD to catch.

"You better hurry up, because we are taking off." Travis said, as I approached the car.
"Jut a sec..." I said, and I wasn't kidding. I am typically the last one off the river all the time, which means I can gear-down faster than anyone I know.
"Ok!" I said, shutting the door.
"Where is all your stuff?" Trav asked.
"It's in the back of the car, all put away."
"Seriously?" He said.
"Well it better be, because we are out of here." Travis said, and stepped on the gas to pull out of the parking spot; then immediately slowed down.
"What's up?" I asked.
"Well now I have to be sure I didn't leave anything." He said with a laugh, and after a long glance we bolted off to the Orvis Rendezvous, and arrived on time.