Monday, September 28, 2015

Gallatin River, Yellowstone Park Day 2

It was my father-in-law, Dan, who first introduced me to fly fishing at a family reunion almost eight years ago. He was fishing by himself, and when he returned I asked him about the sport. He explained it to me the best way he could, then at the end he said, “but don’t quote me on any of this because I really don’t know what I’m doing.”  After a year into the sport, I discovered he was absolutely right. Despite his lack of knowledge it’s a shame we only get to fish with each other once every couple years, so it was nice that Gracy okayed a day for me to take him out to the Gallatin River in the park. 

I had yet to fish the small part of the Gallatin that flanks Highway 191 within the borders of the park, so I wasn't sure what to expect. The nice thing about this particular section is that it was only about 20 minutes away from where we were staying, leaving that much more time for fishing.

Terrestrials were recommended to us, but after a long while of fishing with no hint of a fish, we found some water that was a little deeper and cooler. There was a nice run we had approached, and after some dry fly attempts turning up empty, I switched Dan over to a nymph. I was in the process of clipping my fly off, when I heard Dan yelling. 
“Whoa! There we go! There we go!” He yelled, and I looked up to see he was fighting a fish.

I quickly unhooked my net to help out, but Dan had his own net in his hand and was scooping up his fish. 
“It’s a white fish.” I said, “Would you like a picture with it?” 
“Hell no.” He said quickly, and dumped the fish back into the water unceremoniously. 
“That was a nice white fish. Most of the fish here are ten to fourteen inches, at best.”  
“Who said that?” He questioned.
“The guys at Blue Fly.” I said. 
“Well, I’ll get a picture of the next one.” He said, but with the day we were having it was unclear if there would be a next one.   

I thought about nymphing for a while, then remembered my experience with the mouse the previous day. I had slipped one in my pocket that morning, just in case, and decided to tie it on. I shot the mouse pattern so close to the bank that it skimmed the overhanging grass before it splat down in the river. CA-BLAM! A big brown trout came up and slapped it hard, but I did not connect with it. I slapped my fly back down, but nothing came back up.  I knew there was a fish hiding in that undercut bank, so I took the mouse off and tied on a streamer. The streamer slapped the water hard when it landed above the fish’s home, and when it drifted down to its home I stripped the streamer back.  WAM! It was like I had hooked into a dropping anchor, and I could see the fish doing its best to run in the gin-clear water. 

“DAN! DAN!” I yelled fighting the fish, but Dan was too far downstream to hear me.  The fish was not tiring any time soon, and I did everything I could to maintain control with my 4-w.t. fly rod. The fish was finally starting to tire, but the fight was far from over. The fish would come within netting range, then kick away fast when it spotted the net. Unless you are ready to let the fish run if it wants to, this is the time when they are most likely to break off. That has happened to me far too many times in the past, so when the fish darted away I was ready. 
Whether he heard or saw me fight a fish, Dan was on his way over , but by then the fish was tired enough to come in. 
“I thought you said they only get 14 inches?” Dan said, looking at the brown trout in my net. 
“This fish is a monster in this river, and I will probably not get another one here that is this big again.” I said, and held up the fish for a picture.   

I dipped the fish back into the water, and it stayed with me for a little bit before kicking away.

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. 

Dan had showed up to get a picture of me and my prize fish. 
“This one is bigger than the last one!” He said. 
“I honestly can’t believe it.” I said with a smile. 
“I tried calling for you and walked over to find you so you could try catching this fish.” I said, as I tried to get ahold of my fish.  
“Well, I would have just screwed it up.” He said. 
“That’s true...” I said with a smile, and held up my monster cutthroat trout.    

I placed it back into the water, and held its tail before it kicked away and back into its home.

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.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Grayling Creek in the Morning Yellowstone Park Day 1

There’s nothing like waking up to the cool crisp air of Montana, especially if it’s paired with fly fishing. This particular trip to West Yellowstone was not a fly fishing trip, however. The previous night I drove up with my wife, Gracy, and she was sure to let me know that. So if I wanted to get away it was going have to be early in the morning, and when I woke up I bolted out before anyone could stop me.

The small creek that runs near Lois’s cabin is Grayling Creek, and after passing by it for the past few years it was time to check it out.

With my bear spray on my hip and a bell to ward off evil spirits, I made my way down to the creek. There were deep holes that looked promising, but nothing was hitting my fly when it plopped down. I made my way upstream, slapping my fly in every spot that looked that looked like it could hold a fish. 

Every once in a while I would look over my shoulder while flicking my bell to alert anything that may be nearby, and when nothing popped up I continued upstream. Being cautious of bears is foreign to me, because on my home rivers I don’t have to worry about waking a sleeping grizzly. So with every plop of my fly I would glanced around before taking my next cast; that was until I came to a barbed-wire fence across the river. I don’t think it is legal for land owners to fence off a river like this, but I didn’t know for sure so I walked back to my car to check out a different part of Grayling Creek.

I was bleeding time, and I had yet to catch a fish. I pulled over near another bridge on Grayling Creek that was just outside the boundaries of Yellowstone Park, and it looked promising. The little bell on my hip rang loud as I made my way to the water, and I quickly made my way up until I found a nice pocket of water that looked promising.  

I flicked my fly into the nice blue pool, and a small fish came up and rocketed out of the water. I believe its intention was to eat my fly, but it completely missed the opportunity. I chuckled to myself at the failed attempt and placed my fly back in the same spot to give the fish another chance to eat it. The little fish didn’t disappoint. As soon as my fly hit the water, it came back up and nailed it. I lightly set the hook, and felt the little shaking head of the fish.

Although it wasn’t much of a fight, I was sure happy to have caught a fish.  I unhooked it, and the little thing bolted so fast that a small cloud of soot was the only thing left behind. I quickly got up, made another cast, and was hooked into an even smaller fish. The rod tip of my 4 weight was wiggling with the fight of the fish, and I held the fish at bay just to feel its fight. Despite its size, it was nice to be hooking into some fish.

I had found the honey hole, and in just the knick of time. I had caught all the fish that were willing to come up and eat a dry fly, and I knew if I didn’t check out more of the stream I would never forgive myself.

I hooked my fly to the fly rod, and walked up the stream to find a very large tree blocking my way. 

No worries, I’ll just walk around it, I thought, and did so while ringing my bell...just in case. I got back into the water, and unhooked my fly to see if there were any fish tucked in under the overhanging bushes.

When casting to these bushes I'm not afraid to get my fly caught in the shrub, therefore my fly usually lands about an inch from the bank, which is under the bush itself. I have found that casting this close to the bank can make a big difference on whether or not the fish will take your fly. Just in front of me was another promising spot that looked like it could hold fish, so I casted over to it and my fly landed in the bush. I yanked my fly out which seriously disturbed the bush, but my fly was out. 
“What the hell?!” I yelled.  
The water had just erupted no more than three feet away from where I was standing, and I looked over to see a mouse swimming to the bank and a very large fish trying to eat it.

“No way! No way...” I said with amazement. I had never seen a fish attack a mouse before, and so close. I stood there shocked, and looked around to see if anyone else had seen what I just saw, and of course there was no one. The fish had sunk back into its hole, and even after studying the water I couldn't see where it was lying. That didn’t matter because the fish had already made a huge mistake... It let me know where it was.  I snapped out of the shock of seeing the attack and tied on an old dried up streamer I had stuffed in my vest. Though I could not see the fish, I knew where to throw the streamer.  It hit the water hard and I started stripping back when the fish shot out from under the bush.  The stream was only about ten feet wide, so I could easily see the fish when it took my streamer in its mouth... and I was also able to see the streamer rip out of the fish's mouth when I set the hook.

“DAMN IT!” I yelled, knowing full well that I had just missed my opportunity to catch this fish. I spent a lot of time casting back into the fish’s home, but nothing came back out. It had got away, and I was not happy about it.  I kept replaying the moment in my head: what if I set the hook a little later? What if I strip-set the hook? what if, what if, what if? 
I finally gave up, and walked back down the the original honey hole I had caught fish from just a bit ago.

I did catch a few more little fish, and I must say it made me feel better.

My phone started buzzing just as I was beginning to wonder how long I would get away with staying out here.  

My morning fishing time was over, and it was time to hang out with family... It was going be a long rest of the day. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Trophy Trout Lake

When you hike a lot in the McCall back country, you discover new things that no one talks about. A few weeks back while on a hike, I noticed a sign that said “trophy trout lake regulations” and knew I had to do some further investigating. It wasn’t long before I talked my wife Gracy into hiking up to this specific lake. Gracy was excited to go, not just because our friend, Callie, was going, but we were also bringing our little dog, Kiwi.

“Oh my God, look at Kiwi go!” Callie said, after we had started our hike and Kiwi bolted to the front of the pack to lead the way. 
“She actually does really well on these shorter hikes.” Gracy added, speaking proudly of her pup as we hiked on.   

“Looks like the huckleberries in this region are ripe.” I said, as we started hiking up the steeper part of the trail. 
“How can you tell?” Callie asked, not having seen a huckleberry bush on our current path. 
“The purple poop on the rocks gave it away.” I said. 
“Is that what that is?” Callie asked.
“No it’s not, he's messing with you.” Gracy chimed in, playing her part as the defiant wife.     
“What is it then?” I asked Gracy, knowing I was right.  
“Well...” Gracy started saying, but then stopped to think about it. “It’s a smashed huckleberry. Someone must have stepped on a huckleberry and smashed it on the rock.” Gracy explain, as if the answer was obvious. 
“So your telling me that someone has been stepping on all these huckleberries on all these rocks?" I asked, with my eyebrow cocked.
“I’m going with the poop idea.” Callie said quickly.
“Well... yeah, but where did you hear that from?” Gracy asked me.
“Mike McLean.” I said, making sure to add emphasis in every syllable of his name.    
“Well if Mike said it...” Gracy said, smirking at me, as Callie stopped to look at the purple poop more closely.

We had reached the highest point of our climb, and could see the scar marks of the 1994 fire. All the green and orange foliage that grew below the tall gray pole-pines added a nice splash of color to the scenery. After a quick break to take in the view, we started on our descent to the lake.

“Well, look at this... huckleberries!” I said in Gracy’s direction after I spotted a bush fully loaded with ripe berries. 
“Whoa, good find, E.” Callie said.  
“Want to pick some?” I asked Gracy, who already had her pack off and was digging through it for a container.  
“Heck yeah.” Gracy said, turning Kiwi’s water dish inside out. Together the three of us started picking huckleberries,with Gracy and Callie putting them in their own containers and me stuffing mine into my mouth.  

“Let’s see what you got there, C.” I asked Callie after we had been picking for a while. 
“I got a bunch of good ones.” She said happily. 
“How about you over there?” I said to Gracy, who was using both of her hands to pick berries and place them in Kiwi’s water dish. 
“There is a bunch over here.” She said back, showing me the pile she had accumulated. 
“Check this out?” Callie said, showing me the handful she had as well.      
“Have you tried one?” I asked her.
“Heck yeah, they’re good. I have never had them off the bush before.” 
“Geez, Callie, get out more.” I said.
“I know!” She agreed.   

After I was done picking berries, I sat back on a large rock and had a sandwich.  Kiwi instantly became interested in me, but there was no way I was going to share this sandwich. 
“How’s your $11.00 sandwich?” Gracy asked. 
“It better be!”
“You spent $11.00 on that sandwich?” Callie asked with surprise. 
“That’s what happens when you leave Erik alone at the Whole Foods deli.” Gracy said.  Both Gracy and Callie looked over at me, and when they did, I was sure to take a huge bite of my sandwich that even a hippo would be proud of. 

My sandwich was huge, so I only ate half of it. By the time I packed the rest of it away, both Gracy and Callie were ready to continue the hike to the lake, which was only a few yards away. We stopped at the water's edge so the girls could polish off their huckleberries, as I slapped the fly rod together.

“Don’t forget to save a handful of those huckleberries to smash on the rocks on the way out.” I said, ever so charmingly. 
“You!” Gracy scolded, pointing her finger at me as a joke as Callie laughed it off. 
“Well, I’m out-a-here.” I said. 
“Wait! You are already going to fish?” Callie asked. 
“Yeah...” I said, as if it were obvious. 
“I want to fish with you.” Callie said, so I stayed behind to help rig up a fly rod for her. There were fish rising within casting distance, so I had time to teach her how to roll cast and she picked up on it fast.    

For a little while there was no sign of a fish nearby, and even the few rises out in the middle of the lake were minuscule at best. I began to walk further away from our stopping point, when a fish rose in casting distance back where Callie was standing. 
“A fish just rose over here.” Callie said, but I was already on the move, teetering around skinny elbows of grass that provided a small path around bushes near the edge of the lake. Callie flicked her fly out, but it was far from the path of the fish. Without hesitation, I bolted my line out to the fish, and over Callie’s line that was still on the water. It was a cocky move, but the window of opportunity to catch the fish was very small, and there was no time to waste. Like clockwork, the fish swam over and ate my fly.

“You got it!” Callie yelled. 
“Sorry I casted over your line.” I said back. 
“I don’t care, I just wanted to see you catch that fish.” She said back quickly, and snapped a picture of my fish as I brought it in.    

The cutthroat trout shook off before I could get it in my hands, but the size of it was nowhere near trophy no big deal.

I continued to fish around the lake, while Callie stayed closer to Gracy and Kiwi. At one point I was hooking into some smaller fish, and called Callie over to try it out, but nothing took her fly. She ended up heading back over to Gracy as I continued around the lake.

After a long while with no dry fly activity, I switched over to a sinking tip line with a black leech fly attached.  I casted my line out, and counted to ten before I started striping my line back in. My fly was nearly in when a fish bolted from under a rock, and ate it. All I saw was a flash, and felt the weight of a fish at the end of my rod. The fish immediately started taking line as it bolted towards deeper water. The fish tired quickly, and when I brought it in I was surprised to see it was a brook trout.

Though this brook trout was no trophy, it was the biggest brook trout I have ever caught; not that I had much to compare to, with the prior one tipping out at seven inches. I dipped the trout back into the water, and it didn’t hesitate to scramble away to freedom.

After a few more casts I continued my way around the lake and pitched my fly in, and around, any object in the water.  Coming up empty handed was a bit discouraging, so I pressed on and through a thick portion of bushes without getting my fly line caught once in its grabby branches. Not a single tangle through that mess made me happy, and I was even more happy when I casted out my line and got a hit.

The fish was quick to take, and just as quick to shake the hook off. I could tell by its colors that it was a brook trout, and a small one at that.  Still, it would have been nice to land the last fish of the day, and I knew I needed to get back to where Gracy and Callie were. To keep myself from making another cast I clipped off my fly, reeled in my line, and swiftly returned, running into Kiwi first. 
“Kiwi, are you ready to go home?” I asked her. She looked at me, slightly lifted her ears ,and gave me three wags of her little tail; in Kiwi language this meant "yes".   

The hike back wasn’t bad at all, if you were Kiwi. We picked her up on all the steep embankments, and she got treats when she minded. And when a treat is involved, she always minds. The nice thing about the end of the hike was a small cooler we had back at the vehicle with a few treats of our own which we happily drank on the way back home. 

When we arrived back in Boise I was a little hungry, and that’s when I remembered my sandwich. Prior to driving back home, I packed it in the cooler so that the ice would keep it cool for later. When our packs were back in the house, I went out to grab my sandwich and was mortified. In the bag I had, obviously not completely sealed, was about two inches of water, fully submerging my gourmet sandwich. 
“Damn it! No, no!” I yelled. 
“What’s the matter?” Gracy asked, peaking her head into the garage. 
“It’s my sandwich!” I wined, “there’s water in the bag, and it’s ruined!”. 
“Well next time you will learn to be more careful.” She snapped, with no hint of consideration in her voice. 
“YOU DON’T EVEN CARE!” I yelled, and with all my might I slammed my sandwich on the concrete floor. The water inside the bag shot everywhere, along with a few slivers of salami and roasted red peppers, covering the ground like confetti. 
“Feel better now?” Gracy asked, sternly. 
“NO!” I snapped. 
“Well, you are not coming in until you clean up the mess you made.” She said, and shut the door behind her. 
I stood there alone, looking at what had become of the rest of my $11.00 sandwich. Slowly... and reluctantly... I started to clean it up.             

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Zero Expectations

We found ourselves staring at the white caps of Hebgen Lake on the last morning of our fishing trip, and it was not what we wanted to see. Just the other day, before we left, Terry spoke with a seasoned Hebgen Lake angler who said fishing was slow this week, and if it picked up he would stick around; needless to say, his camper and truck were nowhere to be seen.
“Well, what do you think?” Terry asked, still watching the white caps on the lake.
“Let’s check with a local fly shop.” I said.
“Do you have one you like?”
“I do.”
“Well, no use sticking around here.” Terry said, and turned the truck around to head to the fly shop.     

We should have done this the first day of the trip. Local experts explained what we had encountered and offered other suggestions we should have looked into from day one. It was still early in the day, so it was suggested that we hit the Madison River for a quick float. Terry and I picked up a few flies for the float, and when we arrived it was obvious we were getting on the river a little late.

The parking lot was almost full with trucks and empty trailers from anglers that hit the river long before us. 
“Have you ever fished the Madison River?” I asked. 
“Well then you are taking the front of the boat!
“Okay.” Terry said, and after parking his truck he was back and at the front of the boat, casting before I had pushed off to row.       

Terry was staying true to his hopper, but also added a small caddis as a dropper which paid off. No more than a few feet downstream from the boat ramp, Terry’s caddis got hit. He reacted quickly by jetting his fly rod high, which sent the little fish attached to the end sailing through the air. 
“Geez, Terry, did you forget how to set the hook on a small fish?” I asked, as the little fish splashed back into the water, still connected to Terry’s line.  
“Hell, I’m just excited to catch something!” He said, laughing and getting a handle on his fish. 

Terry dropped the fish back into the water and was back at it again.  The little fish were nailing his fly, and after he had caught a number of them we quickly switched spots. I tied on a small green beetle that railed behind a larger stimulater that the fish were not leaving alone. Together, Terry and I were relocating little fish as we drifted down the river. 

The Madison is rich with foliage lined along the bank, and as you drift by it’s easy to notice small flies that have been cast into the bushes in search of the big one that may be lurking in the shadows underneath. Despite the warning signs, I gunned my fly under an overhanging branch.  My fly line could not have unfolded any better, sending my fly deep in the throat of the pocket.

It was as if the river bed came to life. A brown trout was back there camouflaged in the rocks, and when it moved, it looked like the rocks themselves were moving. A quick swipe and the brown trout had my fly in its mouth, so I set the hook. 
“Got em’, Terry!” I yelled. 
“There was one back there!” He yelled, and starting back oaring to maintain control. We were in some shallow water, so after handing me the net Terry stepped his foot down on the anchor release to stop the boat. The rope uncoiled from his feet, releasing into the river for the anchor to take hold, and I could feel it dragging behind us to slow our drift. I had the brown trout beat by this point, and netted it with ease. 
“That’s a nice brown trout there, Terry.” I said, obnoxiously proud of my fish.
“I bet you want a picture with it now.” Terry said sarcastically, and I was already lifting my fish up to the camera to answer his question. 

After the brown trout, I handed Terry my fly rod and got behind the oars to give him a chance at hooking into a nice fish too. Just like before, Terry had already started casting before I had a chance to pull in all the rope he let out to stop the boat. 

The winds had picked up, and the worst thing about it was it was blowing us downstream. We back-rowed the boat to slow down and allow the person at the front of the boat to get a good shot as we floated down. With the wind blowing us down the stream, every back row felt like I was trying to stop a train from floating down the river. And with the river being so shallow, I couldn’t dig deep without scraping the river bed with the oars to try slowing us down.    

The wind wasn’t helping Terry any either. The trailing loop on his dropper kept hanging up on the leader as he casted. His old eyes were working overtime, figuring out the puzzle of untangling his leader. And, of course, he would refuse my offer to help, saying “I’ll get it!” as he tugged the tangle tighter.

Terry’s line was back in working order and out on the water.  There was the occasional small fish caught, but no big ones yet. Terry was relentless, casting under every bush and pocket water we came across; so much to the point that he forgot how long he had been at the front of the boat. 

“So, do you need a break from fishing yet?” I asked coyly. 
“Are you thinkin’ it’s your turn?” He asked. 
“Well...” Terry began to speak, then cut himself short, “Yep, it’s your turn!”
Terry handed me the fly rod without reeling in the line, which was not normal for Terry. I took it as he sat down behind the oars, and I noticed he was giggling. The anchor was not dropped, so the switch we made was fast. It wasn’t until I had started casting before I realized what he had done.  Mid-cast a pile of fly line in a birds-nest-tangle soared by me.  The tangle was so big that I could hear the wing ripping through it as I casted forward. 
“What the hell?” I said, and looked back at Terry who was now laughing out loud. 
“And you didn’t even drop anchor for me?” I protested with a smile, knowing that this tangle was going take some time to undo.  
“I wouldn’t be that mean to ya.” Terry said, and dropped the anchor to give me time to undo the tangle he left me.  

“That was fast.” Terry noticed, referring to the knot I had just untangled. 
“That’s because I didn’t untangle it, I cut it apart and retied a whole new rig.” I said annoyingly, but Terry knew I was kidding.
“I should use that trick on all my tangles. It would speed things up.” He added before we started floating downstream.


With a newly tied rig, I was even more confident in my casting and accuracy.  I was pulling out all the tricks: pile casting in front of pocket water so my fly drifted down slowly and without disturbance, reach casting to insure a long drift, and single hand spey casting to allow me to get my line out quickly with very little effort.  The intricate twirls and loop I need to perform this spey cast gives the illusion I am simply looping my line all around me, ending with a short pointing of my fly rod to send my fly at a target.   Because of the theatrics of it all, Terry had nicked named this cast Erik’s Zorro cast
Wouldn’t you know it, out of all the special casting it was the standard overhand cast that did the trick.  My fly line shot forward, yet I kept my rod tip high, allowing my fly line and flies to overextend so my flies would hit the water first.  SMACK! Another brown trout took my green beetle, and I had it landed in no time at all. Terry was kind enough to snap a quick picture of it without stopping the boat.

I quickly released my fish and flicked my fly line back out near the bank. 
“We can swap out any time, Terry.” I said, but still had my eye on my popper.  
“Aw, you can fish for a bit longer.” He said. 
“Well, whenever you want to switch I’m good.” I said, making another cast. 
“Well, maybe I’ll stop then.” He said, and put his foot down on the foot-trigger to release rope for the anchor. I was right in mid-cast when I heard Terry yelling,“AW HELL!”
Terry shot out of his seat and was in full sprint towards the back of the boat, and without any hesitation he leapt out of the boat as if he was performing the long jump in track and field. I, on the other hand, had seen this before: Terry had released too much rope out of his boat to the point that the anchor was no longer secured to it. Anchors themselves can run about $130 to start, so it was no surprise when I saw him jump into action.
Terry landed with a splash on the slick rocks of the river, but was in perfect balance. He went to grab the rope to stop the boat as I quickly set my rod down and climbed behind the oars just in case he couldn’t stop the boat. Terry pulled the rope as if he was playing tug-of-war with the boat. Once it was stopped, he immediately turned to look for the anchor, while pulling the boat upstream with him.

“Do you see it?” I asked, also looking from the boat. 
“Not yet.” Terry answered back, looking intently.  
“This is one of those times when you wish you had painted your anchor bright orange.” I said. 
“Found it!” Terry said, completely submerging his arm and pulling up his anchor. 
“Yeaaah!” I yelled, as Terry carried it over to me. 
“The only problem is, I’m not sure how to rig the anchor back through the boat.” Terry said. 
“I know how. I had to do it twice on this very river last year.”
“Well, let’s put on the new rope I bought.” Terry said, pointing to where it was stored. I pulled it out and together we tied the knots needed and started threading the rope through Terry’s boat.      

“I knew I would do this someday, I just didn’t think it would be here.” Terry said, looking around. 
“No better scenery.” I added, while threading the last bit of the rope through the anchor latch, and the process was complete.   

“That's a nice looking rope there, Terry!” I said. 
“Yeah!” He said back. 
“You know, when you jumped off the back of the boat, I was glad we were not over one of those deeper holes that would have put the water over your head.”     
Terry laughed. “I didn’t even think of that!” 
“Well you saved the anchor, and for that...” I opened up the cooler and pulled out a colorful bag, “... you deserve some M&Ms!” 
“I forgot you had those in there!” Terry said, scooping up a handful and popping them in his mouth. I too took a fair amount of the little chocolate candies and popped them in my mouth. The chill from the cooler helped the flavor to last a bit longer, and it was just what the doctor ordered before we went back to fishing.

Both Terry and I switched off and on the rest of the way down the river, with only this little brown trout to show for our efforts. I would sometimes laugh out of nowhere while replaying Terry’s heroic moment to save his anchor, and that usually got Terry to laugh as well.

“Well, it wasn’t a bang-up day to catch fish, but I had the most fun on this float.” Terry said, as we packed away our fly rods. 
“It was fun!” I agreed. 
“And look...” Terry pointed, “we are going to be famous! It’s the google car!”   

Both Terry and I stood with our arms in the air as the Google car stayed still for a long period of time. We were hoping to get in the picture looking goofy, but after some time with no evidence of a picture, we put our arms back down because we felt stupid. We may not have been in the Google Maps picture, but it was nice to end the trip on a fun float down the Madison River, knowing I would be back in less than a month.