Had a pretty good afternoon today on the Bitterroot with Chris. We fished an access that we had never been to before. We found a nice run as soon as we reached the river and began swinging our streamers. I began to walk downstream to find new water when Chris yelled something. He was hooked up. I waded out to him. It was a small sized brown of about 11 inches. Nevertheless it was a fish, and a fish is a fish.
I headed downstream while Chris fished the rest of the run. I was walking on a high bank right on the edge of the river. I ducked under a pine branch and almost walked right up on a huge brown. It was sitting in the shallows near the bank. The fish hadn't seen me. I was about 10 feet away so I stepped back a few feet and made a cast upstream and across from the fish. I let my fly swing right to the fish. Not deep enough. The fish saw the fly but wouldn't take. I made another cast and put the fly right in the fishes face, twitching it rapidly. The fish slowly trailed and I watched as my fly was sucked in like a vacuum cleaner. I set the hook and just as if the fish hadn't taken the fly at all, the fly came right out of the fishes mouth. The fish spooked and I was about to snap my fly rod in half. It was a big fish lost.
I moved on downstream. I fished for another half hour before I met up with Chris again. We found a really nice deep run where I had one fish chase my fly. About half way down the run I decided to put a split shot on and change my fly color from tan/gold to an olive streamer, my own invention. I let my fly sink deep in the narrow slot and then twitched it up through the water column. On the second cast I had a fish hit deep. I connected well and the fight was on. It was a chunky brown of about 13 inches.
The split shot had turned out to be a good idea. I stuck with it and fished the next pool. Chris moved up a braid while I went down the main river. I was walking downstream and I saw a huge grey bird fly from its perch. It was a great horned owl and I was amazed at how large the bird was. I tried to get the camera but it had flown out of site by the time I turned it on. It was a pretty cool thing to see.
After fishing a while in the same stretch I spotted a big bend in the river downstream. The sun was setting but I yelled to Chris telling him I was going to fish the bend real quick. I walked around a side braid that was slack water and spotted some huge browns swimming around. I eventually ended up spooking them and spotted one fish that was well over 23 inches.
I got to the bend and began fishing. I waded out up to my waist and then started working far bank. I casted and stepped down until the water started to get deeper. I made a cast and then walked back toward the shallow side of the river while stripping at the same time. I wasn't looking where my fly was and I was stunned as the rod was almost ripped out of my hands. I wasn't very prepared but I set the hook well. Immediately a big fish shot out of the water making a huge leap. A rainbow I thought. The fish jumped again and I could see it was a brown. Now I don't know what it is about Bitterroot River browns but, they like to jump. Usually browns don't jump and I've never fought a brown that has jumped more than 2 times. This brown.......jumped 6 times. I was really amazed by it. And these weren't partial jumps. That's 6 times COMPLETELY out of the water. It was an awesome fight and a nice looking fish of about 17 inches.
At that point I was done and more than satisfied. It was a long walk back to the car jumping over many logs recently cut by beavers. I learned a lot on the stream today including that brown trout can jump just as well as bows. What I really learned though, was that at this time of year it is very important that you get your fly down to the fishes level especially since they aren't as active compared to a few weeks ago. Even a couple feet can make the difference. Hopefully this weekend will bring some big Bitterroot browns.