Sunday, January 31, 2016

Alaska: Day Six Captions

Five full days five different rivers.  By this time we were perfectly sated; anything beyond would be just bonus.  That was my vibe anyway.  So it felt very timely and right to sacrifice some numbers in favor of a big fish hunt.  While we had some truly large trout to hand (three RBT taped at 25.5" over first couple days) we knew we had a great chance to top that number on this day.  It was a feeling of could put a serious bookend on the deal today but really nothing to lose. So no Roman Centurion as figurehead ; rather the dog-at-ease; the symbol for the final day of what was already the trip of a lifetime. 

Brought a stiff 8 wt and glad for it.  It shined on this day (thanks neighbor for loan).  Not an expensive rod.  Just a cannon.  Big water here.  Swinging from the boat; big Dalai lamas.  Bunny fur.  One backcast and shoot line.  Mend some.  Fish all the way through including holding for a good count when the line was out straight downstream.  Careful study and feeling.  Guide watching the line occasionally yelling set set set.  

Of all the days this one was 100% the most "guided" as it would pertain to the details of the fishing.  Previous five days the guides brought us places, got us set up  and then multi-tasked their asses off taking care of us and essentially making friends throughout the day...   but very little was said in the way of drifts, techniques, fighting fish, etc.  On this day though, given the potential for a trout of legandary status, the size of the water and the heavy current, the guide demanded some particulars: don't touch your drag; it's set how I want it. Don't palm your reel.  Don't rail on these fish they have trout mouths not carp mouths.  Keep your rod up.  Wait; keep that fly in the water a little longer.  Etc. etc.  And I found that I really appreciated it all.  It was constructive and worked well; good dynamic.  Pretty early in the day this 25.5 came to hand.  

We caught a number of "smallish" RBT in the 18-20" range and then I hooked what appeared to be a giant chrome rugby ball.  It went airborne and shook; just beat me.  Which I can accept just fine.  I replayed my actions and was good with each; sometimes fish win.  Not too many minutes later I hooked this one.  Notable.  The fly line was not only gone from the reel but out of sight within maybe ten seonds.  Giant arc of backing at the horizon looking downstream.  Ran so far as to get into unsafe water such that we could not follow.  No way we are getting the effing fish; no way I kept saying.   Look she's in a damn giant rapid.  Keep the faith he said.  That fish doesn't want to be there any more than we do.  And here she came then swimming back upstream; me taking up backing burning with focus trying to stay tight as possible.  She did come back.  Some great secondary runs and then we out of the boat; fish to hand.  Taped without error at 27.0" inches biggest trout I'd touched at that time.


Proof that it's possible to look heavy.


Another good example of angler teaming with guide.   I had a barely-notable 18-19" RBT on one side of the boat and DF was working the other.  He was about to pick up and fire again when guide said wait, wait keep your fly in the water this is a good piece.  Second later DF hooked this one which after a great confrontation we taped at 26".  Nice work by both angler guide landing this fish.

Early on I asked what is typical batting average for this water and method.  Meaning of takes perceived how many fish are landed.  I think he said about 50%.  I stated that my goal was to beat that number.  Not to win anything in particular but to indicate that I applied myself well enough and focused such that the outcome was best it could be.  I got to 11/13 and stopped counting.  Granted one of those lost was an aboslute slob trout that we all really wanted to see.  But I'll take it.  We'll take it.  We released a lot of pretty nice bows without measurement or photo.   Toward end of day we stopped to look at this beauty leopard and taped it at 23.5".  


Seemed about right.  Each day brought something new; some new facet of presentation, water, species, travel and companionship.  It's now end of January and I still think about this adventure daily; will stick with us all; bind us together.  Thankful for it.

8 Comments:

Blogger John montana said...

What a trip.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Cal Driver said...

I need to go the lakes you go to because I never catch fish that big. I guess I'll have to change my bait or something.

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