I started fishing around 7 after a quick dinner at the Ennis Cafe (which is famous for their strawberry pie. I highly recommend getting one if you ever find yourself in Ennis.) The winds were crazy for the first hour and I tried to nymph the best I could without getting the drag effect on my flies. Then as the winds began to die down, the fishing started to pick up. There was a nice hatch of what looked like PMD's but I wasn't sure. I wasn't seeing any rising fish so I stuck with the nymphs and continued to work my way downstream. I found a very small slot along the edge of the bank. There was a bit of slack water past the slot so I worked that really well. I had one strike but missed the fish. Halfway down the slot I hooked into a very small trout and the fish flew out of the water and off of my fly when I set the hook. The next cast I hooked into a little bigger fish. I finally landed the first one! It was about a 7 inch brown. Still a beautiful fish though.
After finishing up fishing that run, I turned around and saw a very nice slower stretch of water just downstream from a riffle. As I waded closer I realized it was quite deep. I began to nymph and on the third drift I hooked into a big fish. immediately a huge slab of golden brown went flying out of the water in the opposite direction of me. The fish rocketed downstream and I had the fish on the reel almost instantly. However, like I said, today I was rusty. My drag was set a little too tight (way too tight) and the fish broke all three of my nymphs off about 10 seconds into the fight. I felt like a complete idiot. I was now even more determined to redeem myself. Two more casts and I missed another nice strike. I was really blowing the opportunities tonight. The sun was going down so I continued to fish the hell out of the deep run. A few more casts and then SMACK! a really huge take and the fight was on. The fish shot downstream but this time my drag was set nicely and I played the fish very conservatively. It was either a huge fish or a foul hooked fish. It felt like I had foul hooked him because the fish was extremely powerful. The fish continued to move downstream and I let him run for a little bit. During the fight of about 15 minutes, I had a very nice thought. The sun was setting, my reel was literally screaming from time to time, and it was just me vs. the fish. It was a great moment and I remember thinking to myself, this is where I belong. I fought the fish into the shallows and then found out why he was fighting so hard. It was indeed a large fish, but not a trout. It was a big whitefish, which was really disappointing considering he had just basically wasted 15 minutes of fishing! However, it was a nice fish of about 20 inches and it was good to get the feeling of fighting a very decent fish back.
A Nice Whitefish
That fish ended my night on a good note and I am somewhat pleased with the way things turned out today. Could have been a lot better though. I'll be up very early tommorow to fish the same stretch of the Madison. I suspect the morning fishing will be far better. Stay tuned for day 2 reports.......