Forget epic Mayfly hatches. Forget fishing mouse patterns or big articulated streamers at night. The massive browns and rainbows on this river rise to schools of minnows—and all you need to catch them is dedication, and a little white marabou-streamer.
This past week, I traveled north to meet up with an old college buddy named Ian Doig to partake on what he said could be the trout fishing trip of my dreams—and he wasn’t kidding. We loaded up the truck and, picked a few songs on our guitar and mandolin, and then headed out to meet one of his fishing buddies at an undisclosed location.
I didn’t know much about where we were going ahead of time, he wouldn’t tell me. And it was already dark when we pulled into the driveway of a small cabin in the middle of nowhere. We would be staying with Ian’s best friend, Justin, and his girlfriend, Alissa; and we had beaten them to their cabin—so we let ourselves in and unloaded the truck.
The cabin had a big front porch, with a pile of old fishing rods, tarps, boots, and nets stacked in the corner—this was most certainly a fishing cabin. The next thing I noticed was a mobile made of deer bones hanging next to the door; rib bones, leg bones, vertebrae, and a skull artistically arranged and connected with little bits of twine. The deer-mobile was an absolute masterpiece! We opened the door to the place and turned on the light only to see a cozy little cottage decked out with grateful dead memorabilia and Alissa’s paintings. On the book case…grateful dead board games, fishing books, and yet another game that read, “fishopoly.” The back room was filled with guitars, painting supplies, and fly-fishing equipment—I had found a tributary to heaven, and the couple who owned it were just as stellar.
Justin smiled through his over grown, mountain-man beard as we got to know each other through a prefatory fly tying session. He was a great guy; creative, laid back, and he liked good music—much like all of my fishing buddies. Alissa was just as enjoyable… a painter, who also liked good music, and really liked to fish! I couldn’t have been at a better place with better people to fish with. We retired to our few hours of sleep and woke up at 2:30 am the next morning to fish this secret spot… that’s when things got interesting!
I couldn’t focus on the road for the life of me, and had to pull over and let Justin drive for the sake of staying alive. Five minutes in the passenger seat… and I was out cold. I awoke to jam-rock guitar on the radio, the truck hauling down a back road with a hairy-bearded man behind the wheel. I was absolutely clueless to our location, and even a map wouldn’t have helped me pin point our whereabouts.
He hung a quick left, which caught my tired mind off guard, and slowed down to pull into a gravel parking spot. The area was heavily wooded, surrounded by faint mountain peaks—the river roaring in the valley below us. I opened my door to an unseasonably, chilly July morning. It was pitch black, the stars in their full glory… heaven! The run was vicious, ripping against an intensely jagged rock wall; flowing below a massive stretch of deep, wide, slow moving river. The river, littered with thousands upon thousands of foliage fish—provided a minnow buffet for the slab of hungry trout lurking against the jagged rock. And even better, when enough minnows were swept downstream by the ruthless force of the run, these monster trout fed heavily. The rising trout could be intercepted with a small white streamer, a single tuft of marabou and flashy white chenille. And when trout met streamer, well, you were in for quite a ride.
“Slap!” Justin’s 8-weight doubled over, and the fly line began cutting across the water. The trout dove deep and held strong on the river bed—with Justin’s arm, reel, and fly rod shaking under the pressure of the fish…absolutely unreal! He finally managed to work the trout to the surface, and to his delight, it was a massive brown trout—not just another rainbow (we had already caught a handful of those).
He began hootin’ and hollering, painted his face with a massive grin, and handed the rod off to Ian so that he could net the fish himself. “Swoosh, plunk!” The net hit the water with a thud as Justin scooped up his catch. Trophy trout landed!
Oh, and did I forget to mention…? The small stream brookie fishing was unbelievable!
By Austin Green.