Thursday, December 8, 2011

Clark Fork

Even though conditions on the lower Clark Fork have been a bit icy/slushy, today's weather couldn't be passed up. It was a crystal clear day with temps in the mid 30's as Chris and I headed to an access that we've been fishing at for the past month. Its deep, slow runs provide perfect water for winter fish. We got to the river around 2:15. I headed right down to my run that I've consistently been catching fish in. Surprisingly there weren't too many floating ice chunks (far less than down near Missoula) and it didn't feel too cold out. I fished the top end of the run with no takes and then came to the steep drop off where I have always manage into a fish. Sure enough a few drifts later with a san juan worm and I had a take. I set the hook into what felt like a log. The fish quickly jolted downstream. Some big head shakes, and I knew it was a decent fish. I didn't think it was that big of a fish and as I tried to horse the fish to the shallows I started to realize that it was actually a really nice fish. The fish wasn't budging so I let the fight play out and the fish began to tire. I brought the fish into the shallows just as Chris had reached me. This is when I noticed how fat this fish was. It was a very wide and chunky fish and had some length to it also. To top it all off the fish was beautiful, speckled with hundreds of bold black spots, a huge pink stripe, red gill plates and white tipped fins. The upper scales near the back of the fish showed up gold in the setting sun. 

Numb fingers and toes were ignored as I slipped the fish into the icy water and watched as it jetted off into the depths where I hooked it. It was a great moment. I was glad that Chris had showed up when he did because I wanted a picture with the fish. I returned to the same deep run and put my san juan worm right along the same drop off. A few casts later and I was hooked up again with a small whitefish.

Immediately after I released it, Chris was hooked up with a fish in the head of the run. It was his first December fish in Montana, although it was a whitefish. However, a fish is a fish and Chris was happy.

Chris fighting his first December fish

We fished the same run for a while and then decided to head back up to the car. Our guides were freezing up good and the temperature was dropping quickly. We both took a section of the long bridge pool and had a couple missed takes. It was a great day on the water and a successful one at that. I don't know why, but that Cuttbow that I caught today was a very memorable fish. Then again, I say that about most of fish that I catch. I think I'm at the point in my life where every fish is a memorable one, no matter what the size, type, or color. And that's is what I've come to realize in fly fishing....every fish is perfect, in its very own way.

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