About Me

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Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
I am an attorney in my early thirties with a serious fly fishing problem. I work at a large corporate law firm where things move pretty fast. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of corporate America, I try as often as possible to get away and enjoy a quiet stream. My blog attempts to detail the adventures I have both on and off the water in "My World on the Fly."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The West III: On Our Own

For Days 3 and 4, Joe, Johnny and I rowed ourselves in Joe's beautiful drift boat.  Both days we floated Section 1 because that's the section of river Joe knew the best from his guiding days.  The plan was to utilize the same strategy--slam the banks early, find risers in the afternoon, and finish with streamers at dusk. 

On the first day, we had one of the most memorable (and definitely the most valuable) catches of the trip.  One thing you have to understand about this crew is that we rarely come unprepared.  Actually, we're usually so loaded with gear that half the stuff we lug halfway across the country never gets used.  This trip was no different.  Here are the weapons we used for day 3.  Pay close attention to the rod in the foreground.

Every now and again, having a lot of gear (e.g. extra rods) proves useful.  On our first day in Joe's boat, we put in at the dam.  Joe took the first shot at rowing, as he was the former guide, and Johnny and I planned to throw some heavy sink tip rods with big streamers to see if we could dig up one of the big, big browns that are often seen hanging out near the dam.  We put the boat in the water and Joe rowed hard across the heavy current over to the power house where the current was not ripping.  Once we hit the slack water, Joe rowed upstream so we could start our streamer fishing as close to the dam as possible.  Joe really earned his stripes for this because even in the slack water, rowing upstream was not easy with the 30 mph breeze that was screaming off the dam directly downstream.  Thanks for the effort Joe. 

After a hard fought battle, Joe got us in position in the main channel and we began chucking and ducking, literally.  I don't think JD got the memo, however, about the ducking part.  After about five casts I absolutely drilled him in the back of the head with a very large conehead streamer.  I blame the wind, and of course the guide for not positioning us properly.  I suppose I had a little something to do with it too.  Sorry JD.  Anyway, the fly hit Johnny with such tremendous force that he was briefly stunned.  He wasn't unconscious or anything, but he was dazed enough that he let go of his $1500 Sage/Lampson rig (shown in the foreground in the picture above) and watched it sink to the bottom of the 8 foot main channel.  Joe and I screamed at him to grab the thing as it slowly sank but it's like he couldn't hear us.  I'm guessing his ears were ringing still from the shot he took to the dome.  There was nothing we could do as the rod sank to the bottom.  The current was way too strong to jump in, and, even if it wasn't, the rod was 8 ft down and the water was freezing.  I consider myself to be a pretty strong swimmer but this was not an option.   

Depressed, Joe pulled the boat over in the slack water and we tended to John's wound.  After a few minutes, we decided it was worth rowing back upstream, floating the same line, just to see if we could locate the rod.  We had no idea how to get it even if we could find it but we went for it anyway.  Sure enough, on our first drift, we spotted the silver reel and rod with about 60 feet of fluorescent green fly line waving in the current.  We pulled over again and thought: how can we get this thing?  Had we been in a salt water skiff we may have had a gaff.  Actually, with all the shit we bring on trips, I'm surprised we didn't have one.  We put our heads together and formulated a plan.  The idea was to rig up the two stiffest rods in the boat, tie on huge, articulated streamers, reel them all the way up to the front guide, and try to snag the rod or the fly line laying on the river bottom.  

Joe rowed us back upstream, and with cameras rolling, the following unfolded:

After our rod retrieval, karma was on our side.  What was not on our side was the weather.  We got hit pretty hard on Day 3 with a significant thunderstorm (i.e. serious wind, hail, and pounding rain).  With all the gear we had, JD forgot his rain jacket.  He was not comfortable.   

Approaching Weather. 

Uncomfortable JD with no rain jacket. 

After the storm blew through, the bugs continued to hatch and we managed to catch a few fish.  Check out the big adult stone.  Almost salmon-fly worthy:  

Unfortunately, the wind never quit.  Here's an example of what we were dealing with.

Once the weather broke, and it finally did, we all took turns at the oars.  JD saved me quickly by snagging this little hybrid within the first few minutes of my taking over. 

Capt. Joe enjoyed a few fish as well, again from a seated position in the back of the boat.

The biggest fish of the trip came while former South Fork guide Joe Scott was at the oars.  Joe hasn't lost his touch apparently.  As we approached one of his favorite banks, Joe told the story of how this bank holds big fish and no one really ever fishes it.  John and I were doubtful but didn't open our mouths as we were quite comfortable with rods in our hands instead of oars.  We dropped in to the slot along Joe's bank and after a few casts, I nailed this 22' hybrid on a dry. 

Here's a little video of landing this sucker.  Listen closely to the commentary between Big JD and I. Always on each other's case.

Day 4 and Day 3 sort of ran together.  We spent a lot of time on a new riffle down near the take out.  This is where we caught the majority of our fish on our final days.  We stuck some great fish.

As is usually the case, I had a very difficult time leaving the river on our last day.  Fish were rising everywhere but it was getting dark and we had a little more river to cover before the take out.  Check out some of this video of fish rising on this little flat.  One more cast was the recurring theme....

Eventually we were forced to quit.  That night we enjoyed steaks and good red wine and reluctantly packed our things.  It was an amazing trip and hopefully will become an annual adventure for the three of us.