img_1764The water was as low,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

and as clear as I had seen it in the past decade on this river. The sun was shining brightly and the National Weather Service had just reported that our part of the country was on the fringe of severe drought. The surge of major hatches for the year had come to a close earlier than expected because of the cards Mother Nature had dealt us this spring. She deals a different hand each and every spring.

On the way to pick up my client Roger, I weighed my options. The big rivers were becoming more difficult to fish. Gone for the summer were the trout feeding with reckless abandon. Gone were the village idiot trout who would sprint across wide riffles to the ugliest patterns I had tied and ask no questions. Gone were the days of high fish counts. Roger needed a challenge and he was up for the task. We would fish one of the smaller streams in Pierce County that can be laden with trouble. Tight casting lanes. High bank grasses and over hanging trees. Clear water and spooky fish. These small streams can test one’s patience.

As a guide and angler, these are the waters I love to fish. The small waters present the greatest of challenge to the fly angler. The lessons learned are about power and accuracy, about playing strong fish in tight spaces, about stealth and patience and about victory. We learned these lessons that day.

The flash of the large fish stunned us both, but Roger set the hook instinctively. The fight was on. In the 4 minutes that followed, the fish took numerous trips both up and down stream. There was the surge for the log jam and the race for the weed matte. There was the hunker down in the bottom of the hole and the botched first netting(oh no!). Throughout the fight the guide bit his lip and managed with all his soul to remain calm and composed. He had remembered a lesson about getting too exited in front of clients and its effect on the composure of the one hooked to the fish. There was however one comment, referring to his client as a “dude” and informing him of the ginormous fish he had on the end of his line. By the look in Roger’s eyes and the bend in the pole, the comment was unnecessary and only added fuel to the fire  in an already high octane situation where the angler is doing his damnedest to land a big fish. Roger remained composed. When the fish came to net (for the second time), the celebration was on. High Fives were exchanged  and the #20 barbless hook was retrieved from the corner of the brown trout’s mouth. The mark on the net showed 19″.  Quick pictures were taken and the great fish was returned to the water.

Rogers 19"

Roger's 19"

In my book, on my home waters a 12″ trout is a fine fish. A 14″ trout is a great fight and lets you know they are above the average. A 16″ trout fits into the upper pyramid as far as our fish go and it is a thrill to hold one. A trout above 18″ is a special memory.