It has been awhile since I have sat down and blogged. I’m not exactly sure why that is. I’d like to tell you it’s because I have been fishing so much I haven’t had the time. Maybe it’s my girlfriend. I’d like to think that the things I do with her are more fun than writing. Another reason could be that everyone I know is getting married this summer. Again I’m not complaining but, I’m not the type of guy to be in any shape to write a blog the morning after a wedding. I think the real reason is probably because I just now hooked up the Century Link in my new apartment. By new apartment I mean the one I have lived at for a year now and been paying the internet bill for the twelve months while the equipment has been sitting in the closet. So I’d like to apologize to the small number dedicated readers and hope you enjoy this new piece.
This piece is dedicated to a trip equivalent to what John Elway did to the Cleveland Browns on a January night in 1987. Like any real fly fisherman the phrase “Last Cast” to me generally means keep fishing. Thankfully on this day it had the ultimate payoff. My work schedule had previously given me weekends off. To most people those are ideal days off; however being a fly fisherman in Colorado that’s not the case. It’s needless to say that when the opportunity arose to change those days to Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, I gladly accepted. The following week a trip was planned to a hike into a meadow section of river that is surrounded by 14ers just about every direction you look. I was accompanied by my old man; we were planning to meet two buddies Ivan and Denis at 7 am. If you asked Ivan the reason they were late was because I gave them terrible directions. I would have to disagree because I had no trouble finding the spot. We bullshitted while we put our gear on debating on what to use. It was a unanimous decision that we would fish dry flies until they stopped producing. Besides it was August and the idea of potentially hooking up with a 20 inch Brown on a size 12 stimulator makes leaving the nymph box in the truck a no brainer.
We headed down across the valley until we hit the River. It was decided that we would fish better with two guys on a side alternating sections of water. I stayed with my pops while the other two crossed. It was still a little cold so I wasn’t expecting fishing to be good that early. I decided what the hell I’ll take my chances at this first run. I stripped out some line and threw a cast into the first run while I chugged a cold drink. It is no surprise that a fish came and slammed my Stimi within a second of it touching the water. It goes without question whether I landed that fish or not. Being on the water for over twenty years now I can say there is really only one sure thing about fly fishing. Whenever you are the least prepared for a strike, you will get a strike. While the first fish was a miss it was an overall good sign that it was going to be a productive day on the water. For the next 30 minutes we worked up some good runs all getting a few to hand. We got to the next good run; the far side looked best so I began to heckle Denis. It was the first time I had actually fish fished with him so I wanted to make it clear. If you fish good water you better produce or you’ll hear about it from somebody. As he slid past the willow getting in position to throw a cast I casually yelled across “Hey Denis!! That shit looks good…. Don’t F*** it up Newt!” He threw a solid cast and let his fly drift about a foot before a Big Bow rolled on his dry. Denis put him in the net; it was a solid 17in. Bow that gave the three weight a good bend. It goes without saying that my doubts about the guy were answered. Fishing continued to be consistent throughout the day. However as each good run came and went the hope of running into a big fish slowly faded. It wasn’t a bad day at this point by any means but, it wasn’t a dinner table talk kind of day either.
The day was beginning to wind down. We were now about two miles upriver from the trucks and takes were becoming fewer and farther between. Earlier in the day my dad was talking about these big old Sportsman’s Warehouse hoppers his buddy Bruce had given him. I decided what the hell and threw one of those big bastards on. It was a size eight and bright ass yellow. I slapped that sucker down and watched a few little guys try and eat it during the drift. As the fly swung down and began skipping across the ripple a fish absolutely hammered it. Fishing immediately turned right back on. The change produced and we all got a good laugh at fish hitting that big hopper but, we still hadn’t rolled any fish that turn a day from good to great. My dad worked the next run and casually landed four solid trout. He turned to me and said, “Well have at um.” There was only about 100 yard stretch of river left before we had no other choice but, to turn around. I looked across the river to see Ivan doing something between sitting and dying on the other bank and knew it was a sign he would be ok with the decision to get a head start on the trail back to the cooler full of Denis’s homemade brisket sandwiches. I called over to them, said something foul and made it clear I was going to fish the last run before we head out. Why wouldn’t we? After all it was crunch time and the blog is titled “The Drive” for a reason. Everyone was cool with the decision so I slapped my hopper down along a nice undercut bank to an almost immediate strike. To that point it was the biggest Brown I held all day. I walked up a little further and was joined by Denis on the other side. The last pool has a sweet current running down the middle that leaves hip deep soft edges on both sides of river for about 40 yards. We both worked up the run when I threw a cast. I saw a decent grab on the hopper and set the hook. Denis simultaneously hooked up on the other side so I let out the classic “DOUBLE” yell. Meanwhile my rod had a pretty good bend going so I held on and began to crank on him. I figured I may have set a little late a foul hooked a decent fish that tugs like Big Moe when he is hooked in the side. About two seconds later a big brown came flying out of the water. It’s safe to say shit got a little more serious at that point. He put on another acrobat performance before I could get him to the net. Thank god for long handled nets. Resting in the net was the fish that made my day. We took some snaps I told my pops to fish out the run. I derigged my rod and sat on the bank to finally relax and gloat a little.
Ivan found some new energy. It was that motivated energy that you get when your buddy catches a nice fish. He decided he was going to run his go to streamer “smashed peas” through the run before we headed back. On the next cast I saw what looked like a massive dry take happen. I looked over at Ivan and realized his streamer just got hammered. Ivan worked it out and got the big fella to the net. It was camera time once again. Ivan let out a few celebratory yells then took a seat by me as we watched Denis finish the run out. We laughed about how lucky we both just were and how the day played out.
It was now about 7 pm. As day light was fading we knew it was time to head back. For three bigger guys and one old man we made great time back to the trucks. We sat at the trucks enjoyed the Brisket and began talking about doing it again. Ivan and Denis took off, again pulling out of the parking lot the wrong way. My dad and I laughed at their expense to begin our ride back home. Days like these are the reason why it takes true bums forever to get off the water. That all it takes is one mentality is what keeps me coming back. The brown from that day will forever be known as Mark Jackson…..