Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year That Was

So here it is, New Year's Eve, a quarter to nine, and I found time to crank out a year-end wrap-up post. Not sure what that says about my life but I'm not too interested, either.

This has been quite a year. We saw the destruction of one major western dam and the nearly complete malfunction of another. On top of that, Montana handed down a landmark water access decision. And a bunch of other stuff happened butI don't really feel like mining the archives.

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For me, I got into some nice fish this year, but not as often as I would like. What happens when you do get into them as much as you would like? If that ever happens I might take up steelhead fishing. I won't bore you to tears with a recount of all my trips or a listing of the biggest and the best (or the smallest and worst). But I will recount my most memorable trout of the year.

On the fall trip with my compadre Packer, we hit the absolute worst of possible weather. First week of October and it snowed and blew and got downright cold. We were not properly acclimatized and on top of that Packer got a stomach flu that lead to a streamside puking (good times). Packer gets to fish about once a year, and rarely can he pull off the four day fishing extravaganza, so I wanted to do right by him. I schemed and planned for six months and then bad luck, bad weather and bad chinese food conspired to blow up those plans.

On the second day of the trip, I was pretty sure that things were going bad. We fished all day in the coldest, brightest conditions I could imagine. The water on the tailwater was terribly low and I had a suspicion that all the trout had headed downstream below the feeders. These fears seemed pretty sound when the BWOs finally came and all we caught were whitefish. As darkness descended. I knotted on a heavy streamer and went prospecting. I wasn't expecting much. I splashed the black fur against the far bank and jerk-stripped it in, settling into a comatose sort of fishing that comes when I am not drawing strikes and not fishing dries.

Finally, one cast right against the bank splashed down and half the river exploded as if my fly had detonated a landmine (watermine?). The big brown attacked the streamer the second it hit the water, as if he were tracking its flight and had calculated splashdown. I didn't even have time to set the hook--the fish was just there. I nearly went into cardiac arrest.

Two days later we were breaking down our rods and I was feeling bad because Pack hadn't gotten into nearly as many big trout as I hoped. But he wasn't down. Just getting away from his desk and his cellphone (for the most part) was enough to make the trip a success. That is the kind of thinking I need for next year, what with the grad school and full-time job and not as much as fishing as I would like.

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One of the best things about this year was the water. We had a lot in the mountains last spring. Let's hope for more of the same.

Tight lines and good luck from the Eddy.

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