Yellowstone Cutts

Stretching nearly 3,500 square miles, Yellowstone is the 8th largest National Park in the United States.  Largely known for its diverse wildlife and geothermal activity, it also has strong fisheries.  From the Yellowstone and Lamar to the Gibbon and Soda Butte, there are countless miles of pristine river to fish.  With two years exploring Southwestern Montana under our belts, Courtney and I decide it was time to stray from the endless riffles of the Madison River and head east to Yellowstone.  

The size of the park didn't make it easy to narrow down the options so we stopped in at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone for some insider knowledge before weaving through the tree lined roads of the park.  Traffic jams are just about as common in Yellowstone as they are in San Francisco, but they're caused by bears and bison rather that texting hipsters on their way to the Mission.

Although the wildlife in the surrounding meadows was awe inspiring, we were on a mission for one thing and one thing only.  We were after the fabled Yellowstone Cutthroat trout.  With it's main diet being insects, even as adults, they tend to come easy to the fly.  We settled the car into its dusty resting place for the day and set out over the ridge in search of the river.  After working up a bit of a sweat, we found ourselves resting on the river's grassy banks as it snaked it's way through a massive meadow who's only residents weighed in at about 1,400 lbs.  

Without even stringing up our lines, we were watching fish actively move up and down the banks taking insects off the surface without a care in the world.  My only thought was, "This is going to be easy."  I took out the camera, it was stunning in every direction.  Courtney got started casting.  As his fly drifted overhead, the trout just kept making their rounds up stream, then back down,  running laps in search of their next meal.  He had a few trout inspect his offering, but they thumbed their noses at his fly.  Usually, cutthroat are overly surface oriented and eager to take a dry fly.  We pressed on and only had intermittent luck as we worked our way through the meadow, hugging the high banks looking for active fish. 

We spent the good part of the day throwing dry flies.  The gaudier the fly, the more it seemed to work.  It was almost counter intuitive.  With grizzly tracks authoritatively etched in the sand bars, we knew that leaving before dusk was a requirement.  We'd need just a sliver of light incase we needed to aim our bear spray on the way out of the meadow.  The sun was beginning to lower in the sky and the trout were making circles in the surface of river with greater frequency.  We couldn't quite leave yet, it was just about to get good! 

As Courtney typically does, he fastened a streamer to the end of his line and began working back down stream, lacing his casts between rising trout.  Before long, he had the fish of the day on the end of his line.  I still wasn't convinced and kept floating my foam near the banks.  "On!", he was tight to another fish and my surprise was turning to interest.  After three fish to the net with his streamer, it was time for me to change tactics.  It was time to channel my inner Kelly Galloup!

The golden hour was spent working our way through the meadow in the company of massive Bison as we splashed Wooly Buggers up against structure, through runs, and against the high banks.  The cutthroat weren't shy.  When they wanted the streamer, they hammered it hard and made their presence known.  It was my first time having a truly successful streamer session and I was changed.  Forever. 

After we each landed a good number of fish we decided to start our haul back to the trailhead.  It had been a long day filled with great fishing for one of the more beautiful salmonids I'd seen.  As we sweat our way back up the ridge we were chased out of the park by what felt like 10,000 mosquitos.  A good reminder that we were only visitors in a place built for the wild. 

Saving the Bull Trout

It wasn't long ago that California had its own native population of Salvelinus confluentus.  In fact, the last documented Bull Trout sighting was on the McCloud River in the late 1970's.  As you could predict, irrigation needs, habitat degradation, and damns led to the fish's demise here in California.  Fortunately, Bull Trout still have the habitat they demand once you're willing to travel North.  

This summer, while in Montana the lure of Bull Trout coaxed my college buddy and I down a fifty mile long dirt road in search of the elusive River Wolf. When you're in a truly wild place with massive rivers, threatened species, and a deep smell of pine, you know you're doing something right.  With three days in front of us and and zero experience with Bull Trout, it's no surprise that I kept telling myself, its all about the experience.  However, deep inside my inner angler, I knew this trip was about more than taking in the wilds of North Western Montana.  It was about hooking and landing fish.  Big fish.  Big, wild, elusive fish.  

When the sound of tent zippers and boiling water rose with the sun, there wasn't much hesitation to jump in the car and explore the fist section of river for the day.  Bull Trout typically thrive in interconnected river systems which allow them to travel from large rivers up through tributaries until they end up spawning in higher mountain rivers with intensely cold water and complex river habitat.  While the smaller fish can eat like other trout, once they get to 14 or 15 inches, they feed predominantly on other fish species.  With that understanding, streamers were attached to our tippet.  Non-slip mono loops pulled tight allowed for maximum movement in the fast moving water.

Courtney, Marty, and I stood on the riverside cobbles, talking about past fishing trips with high hopes for the day.  Marty, a local kid from the area had joined us for the day and was eager to show us one of his favorite river systems. As we stepped into the frigid water and began stripping line from our reels, I tried to temper my enthusiasm.  Only a few minutes into casting, I had a fish following my fly and before I knew it, 20+ inches of Bull Trout was somersaulting through the air.  As my fly floated past me in slow potion, I turned my head up stream, mouth agape, only to hear laughs from the peanut gallery as they watched on.  

We moved up stream throwing dry flies and streamers, undecided on what species we were truly after.  A few Westslope Cutties came to hand and the three of us put down the dry flies and committed to the hunt.  Streamers swung behind rocks, darted out from white water, and eventually got crushed by the fish we'd traveled so far to meet.  Each of us had a good number of chances that day.  Some fish came unbuttoned in the fast water, while others found solace in bottom of our nets.  Each fish we brought to hand was welcomed by smiles and high fives.  When you release a fish like that into the depths of a Wild and Scenic River, you can't help but find a rock to reflect on.  It's an emotional experience to encounter wild fish of this size in their native habitat.  Each fish we landed was an exciting experience for all three of us. 

Although Marty had to head back home at the end of the day, he wasn't sent off without a few great fish to tell stories about.  Courtney and I still had two days ahead of us and we were confident that we'd find more fish to awe us. When my head hit the pillow that night I couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like to land one of these fish in my home state, on the McCloud.  

As a conservationist, I recognize the importance of species like this.  Species that demand perfection (and protection) from us.  Any alteration of the environment they call home and they can be gone, just like the Bull Trout of the McCloud.  Gone forever.  So...if you decide to try your luck with Bulls, walk gently, check your regulations, and keep these guys wet.   

Pit Stop

With months of conversations and planning behind us, it was time for Aaron and I to take off to Montana in search of the kind of fishing we all dream of.  San Francisco isn't exactly around the corner from Montana so we knew we had some quality time in the car together.  Time for sunflower seeds, fishing podcasts, and general musing of what was to come.

After nine hours of driving, Aaron and I finally stepped out of the car. We stretched and turned our attention to the setting sun.  With just over an hour until complete darkness, we didn't debate whether to set up camp or lace up our rods. Within minutes, we had unpacked the puzzle pieces of my car: cooler, rods, sleeping bags and tying materials spilling out of the tailgate as we frantically pulled out our waders and fishing packs.

And so began 10 epic days of fly fishing. As we stepped onto the banks of a river that was brand new to both of us, rising fish dotted the surface of the river in every direction. They were stacked up in the tail outs, next to boulders pushing current, and lined up in the riffles.  Aaron and I looked at each other with utter disbelief, we’d never seen so many fish actively rising in one place.  We found a stretch of river that wasn't being claimed by other fishermen and started throwing small dries ­in hopes of fooling a few fish before the impending darkness made it impossible to see a size 18. Aaron stood high on a rock and shot casts far into the slow moving water of the tail out. Within a few minutes and after changing flies a few times, he was hooked up to a nice brown, fish on!  I wasn't having the same success, so I moved up river to a complex braid of currents moving across the surface of the river.  Trout were poking their noses into the cool evening air in rapid succession and I was convinced I could make my fly drift down the river mimicking the naturals.  The trout weren't impressed.  I waded upstream and found myself standing on a mid­-river rock. From the new vantage point I could see about two dozen fish feeding in the far seam, game on.  A quick fly change and I was ready to make my attack.  It took less than a handful of casts before I had a 19" brown testing my 6x as he thrashed on the surface, dove to the deepest part of the run and shook his head with authority. The fatty slid into the bottom of my net and the weight had been lifted from my shoulders. With the sun almost completely set, we landed a few more fish before begrudgingly heading to the campsite to set up those tents.

The next day, we wolfed down coffee and oatmeal before heading down the trail from our campsite straight to the river. I usually prefer to get as far from the campsite as possible to fish, but the run behind our tent was too tempting to admire from afar.  Starting at the back of the tail out, we worked our way upstream, casting dries and swinging nymphs under the overhanging sage bushes. Before we knew it, we both hooked fish in the 16­-18" range and had huge smiles on our faces. Our morning session was already a success and we hadn't left the confines of our campsite. After landing some really nice fish and snapping some photos, we decided to move up river to find new water.

Driving upstream, we found a little riffle that dumped into a big pool.  From our roadside vantage point high above the river, we could see fish rising to emerging insects in the riffles and creating rings in the pool below it.  We scurried down the cliff and found ourselves at the top of the pool. For hours we stood there trading fish after fish up to 21".  It wasn't even dinner time and we'd each landed nearly 20 feisty brown trout.  Our arms fatigued by the constant pulling of big fish, we stopped and game planned for the evening session.  Normal, right?  Three sessions a day makes sense to me!  The evening session was more of the same.  Big fish rising to small dry flies and we topped it off with a few streamer fish to make things interesting.

Over the course of the next two days, we fished 12-­15 hours a day with short breaks for Clif Bars, chips, and ice cold beverages.  Our priority clearly had nothing to do with health or hydration.  We fished from sun up to sun down and caught fish using every technique in our repertoire: nymphs, dries, bobbers, streamers, dry­-dropper rigs, ­ and Aaron even had a hit on a mouse pattern that night. The only downside to our road trip pitstop was the crowds; Aaron and I both prefer finding those out­ of ­the way places that hold native, wild fish.  With that said, this little high desert trout factory was just what we needed to get the trip started on the right foot.  The average fish size (close to 18"), number of insect hatches, and the tug of healthy fish had us warmed up for our trip north to Montana!

5 Tips for Small Stream Success

Small streams were my jam for a long time.  In middle school I'd fly fish in the streams of the Bay Area, finding pockets of trout where nobody expected them to be.  In college, I ran around the Sierra foothills with my friends catching countless small trout on little tributaries.  Then I started backpacking in the high Sierra.  That's where my problem with small streams got out of control.  Catching Golden Trout and native Lahontan Cutthroat will keep you away from the big rivers and huge fish that live in them.  Small streams are the picture of beauty in the trout world.  Although I've started going after bigger and pickier trout in my old age, there's something childlike and fun hopping from bank to bank looking for native trout in small streams.  I've had a lot of practice on small streams and great mentors in my time on the water, below are five tips for making a day on a small stream a successful one. 

1. Rod Selection:  This one took me awhile.  When I started, I just used the rod I had, which was way too long and built more for bass than 5 inch trout.  At this point in my fly fishing life, I have four or five small stream rods.  All of them are shorter than 7 feet and all of them are 2wt or 3wt.  Small streams call for short, accurate casts.  Most of the time, you'll be fighting with stream-side brush and overhanging trees in order to get those casts off.  So, having a short rod helps a lot in these situations.  These days, I'm also really enjoying glass rods for small streams because they load better when casting short distances and can be a blast to fight even small fish on.  So...keep the rod short, in the 2-3wt range, and possibly glass!

2.  Fly Selection:  Flies can change from region to region and between the seasons.  Most of the time, however, small stream fly selection isn't a precise science.  In my experience, the trout aren't too picky on the small streams, they'll eat just about anything as long as they're not spooked (more on that later).  When I'm fishing small streams I like to take a small, simple box of bushy dry flies (small hoppers, stimulators, adams, or humpys).  Those flies usually do the trick.  When your bouncing from hole to hole, you might come across some deeper sections of creek and that's usually where the biggest trout in the creek will live.  If you're into being a dry fly enthusiast, go for it.  Leave the big ones alone.  If you'd like to land that Hog Johnson in your local small stream, have a dropper hanging off your dry when you get to those deeper pools.  My go-to choices for small stream droppers are small, trim, and heavy.  Size 18 Copper Johns, Tungsten Ju-Ju Baetis, and zebra midges will all do the trick.  The key is getting the fly as deep as possible in the shortest amount of time without sinking your dry fly. 

3.  Approach:  Here's where you can really up your game when it comes to landing more (and larger) fish on small stream.  Be a ninja.  You've got to be quiet, make as little noise as possible, stay out of the water when possible, and keep a low profile.  Small stream fish are usually living in water that's no deeper than your waist.  With that, they're in danger of predation from raccoons, birds, and other local wildlife.  The best way they stay alive, is to hide at the first sign that something's off.  Your size 11 wader boots fumbling along the bank while waving a stick around in the air is not a natural look at all.  It's a sure fire way to put the fish down and spook the hole.  Practice stealth!

4. Tag Team:  If I ever head to a new small stream or trek into the high Sierra, I usually go with a buddy.  Fishing solo is always a good time but I prefer to fish with one other person.  Groups of three, four, and five anglers going to the river together doesn't make a lot of sense to me, especially on small streams.  When I'm on a small stream with a buddy, we try and tag team our approach.  We do this in a few different ways.  We either trade sections of river, one guy fishes while the other spots likely holding places (or takes pictures).  The other option is to trade fish.  I get one, then you get one.  Before I started taking this approach back in college, I'd end up fishing way too fast, "jumping" my buddy to get to the untouched water.  We'd essentially race our way up the river, leaving all the good water in our wake.  Slow down, watch your friend fish, take advice when they're watching you fish, and have a good time.  This slower approach to the river coupled with the learning that happens when you're with a friend will make your experience that much better. 

5.  Be Gentle:  As we all know by now, we need to protect the limited resources we have.  Be gentle with the small stream ecosystems in your area and the fish that call them home!  Small streams can be full of fish but they're a lot more delicate than the 15 inch brown you might have landed last weekend.  So be careful with these trout, you've got to use barbless hooks, take super quick photos (if you take any at all), use silicone nets, and wet your hands when handling these little guys.  These small stream ecosystems can be put off balance with warm water, high sediment loads, or increased fishing pressure.  If you find a good small stream, keep it a secret!  

Spring in the Sierras

The Sierra's weather patterns are rarely predictable.  At times you'll see late afternoon thunderstorms in the summer and warm sunny days in late October.  Spring is no different.  You can be covered in snow one day and soaked in sun the next.  My last trip to the mountains was no different.  Being preoccupied with the end of the school year and wrapping up the last bits of graduation, teacher evaluations, and budget development, I didn't pay much attention to the weather report.  Packing the night before our trip, I threw my new Redington Butter Stick and Hydrogen in to my fishing pack and made sure I had a warm jacket.  I've been known to forget little details like sleeping bags, so I made sure to get that stuffed in my bag too.  

After school was out, Ashley and I rushed out of town and towards the foothills as fast as we could.  We didn't have a big itinerary for the weekend.  I was hoping to do a little fishing, snap a few photos, and generally decompress at high elevation.  Although our plan were loose, one thing I hadn't planned on was snow.  So I was quite surprised to see snow falling through the pines as we reached 6,000 feet.  The road was freshly covered and there wasn't a single car track heading East into the Sierras.   That night we set up tent in the dark with light snow coming in fits and starts.  With the camp set up, we climbed into the tent for warmth and fell asleep to the sound of snow falling on the nylon a few feet from our sleeping bags. 

Our first day was filled with more cold weather and massive snow flakes.  With the river running high and the wind pushing through the granite peaks, we spent most of the day between the campfire and reading under the cover of our rain fly.  At one point in the afternoon, we both turned to each other smiling with how ridiculous it was for us to be tent camping like this.  We were the only ones at the campsite in a tent.  Everyone else was tucked away in their campers and shiny airstream trailers.  As the evening approached, I even asked if we should pack up to head home.  The weather was getting pretty rough and the fishing wasn't going to be much good with the amount of runoff coming down the system.  Against all logic, we decided to stick it out and grab a few more bundles of wood.  Smores, hotdogs, a little fire water, and the campfire kept us going through the night. 

The next morning we woke up to more cold temperatures but a bluebird sky and the prospect of warm weather was on the horizon.  Ashley whipped up a skillet full of eggs and bacon and we sipped coffee standing around the fire.  We would have sat in our camp chairs but the snow had melted and then frozen over night making for little ice rinks in our seats.  We took a walk down to the river and I decided to try and pick apart some of the softer water with heavy split shot and nymphs.  No luck.  After an hour or so, the sun was coming out in earnest and our camping gear was drying out just in time to pack up and head home.  It wasn't exactly the camping trip either of us had envisioned but it actually turned out really and we both left feeling rested and ready to attack another work week.  When trips don't go as planned, sometimes it's nice to just sit and enjoy the ride.  Even if the ride includes wind, snow, and a day full of reading The Drake in the tent!

Off the Beaten Path

Having fished on highly pressured waters before, I know the feeling of coming around the bend of a river and seeing angler after angler set up on the likely holding water.  At times it can be a challenge to find a little solitude, especially with fly fishing becoming ever more popular these days.  

When Aaron and I found ourselves fishing the Eastern Sierra, we were hoping to find some good fish and avoid the crowds.  Unfortunately, we spent the first few days finding pockets of water between other angers,  After a day of sharing water with strangers, we sat under the stars and planned our next day's adventure.  We decided to get of the beaten path and head for the Owens Gorge.  

When standing on the lip of the gorge, peering down it's boulder strewn walls you can see little strips of green flanking the river.  With our car being the only one in the lot, we knew we had made the right choice.  For whatever reason, this section of river gets a lot less pressure than the others in the area.  It could be the hike down, or the more challenging hike out.  It could be the smaller fish or the thick riparian zone making the river hard to navigate.  Any way you cut it, the crowds go else where. 

Once in the depths of the canyon, we laced up our little glass 3wt rods.  I decided to put on a small bright dry fly with an even smaller dropper. After a few slow claps of the glass rod, I was into my first brown of the day.  As is usually the case when you've got to do a little hiking, the fish were pretty eager. The real challenge, was not spooking them.  Aaron and I both started working on our stealth and tucking our flies up against the banks and in likely seams.  Cast after cast we were met with the pull of healthy wild trout that put a serious bend in our light weight tackle.  The river isn't much wider that a one lane road but it's full of complex structure and little buckets and runs that brown trout love.  

As our time on the river wore on, we started being more selective with our casts.  Accuracy and stealth paid off, especially on the first cast into a run, when the biggest fish would usually take the dropper.  Subsequent casts, would still result in fish, they just tended to be the smaller ones. 

With such a small river, we kept swapping runs.  While one of us fished the other would spot productive water or take in the beauty, heads tilted to the sky watching the canyon walls.  There were a few times I found myself taking a seat on a downed tree, slowing down and taking solace in the fact that we were the only ones fishing this area.  In all, we spent two full days plying the waters of the gorge and found the trout and isolation from the crowds to be just what we had been searching for.    

Dough Balls and Dog Food

Flying up the highway, windows down, we were already reminiscing about our four days spent in the Eastern Sierra.  We were both experiencing that feeling you get when on your way back home after a few days in the mountains.  Your mind starts to wander towards the impending work week and the rhythm of the road starts to lull you to sleep.  To keep from swerving into oncoming traffic I kept glancing towards the mountains, peering into the passing lakes, and taking in the small mountain towns as the car ate up highway miles.  As we passes yet another body of water some surface commotion caught my eye.  Fully expecting it to be another duck diving for submerged vegetation, I couldn't help but keep looking.  Immediately upon recognizing it not to be some sort of water fowl, I reached across the car, pointing at the disturbance, asking Aaron what it was.  Quickly we both figured it would be best to stop the car and examine the activity a little more closely.  Once we stopped moving, we were convinced it was feeding carp.  Sure enough, after racing down the hill, kicking up dirt amongst the sage brush our eyes widened with what had to be a dream.  Hundreds of carp rooting around in an expansive flat.  

Without communicating, we both realized our trip home was about to be delayed by a few hours.  You see...neither of us had caught a carp on a fly rod.  As I kid I had caught them on dough balls and dog food, but never on a fly.  To heighten the drive, I had a standing bet with one of my best friends that included landing a carp on the fly.  

Racing into our waders, trying to stay calm, neither of us could believe what was going on just feet from our car.  Once at waters edge, we made some casts but there was little interest shown by any of the passing sewer salmon.  My hopes were through the roof and with each cast, frustration began to creep in.  We both meandered through the flat, literally surrounded by carp. Aaron changed tactics a bit and I came to the realization that they were displaying some pretty heavy pre-spawn behavior, completely uninterested in feeding.  Thirty minutes in and I was already beginning to think about how long our return home trip was and how we should probably cut off the carp flies and get back on the road. 

That's when the pattern was cracked.  Aaron called from across the flat and his rod was bent in half.  He was hooked up.  Filled with excitement and jealousy (I've been wanting to land a carp on the fly for years now but have never taken the time to try) I ran over to help with the net.  Eventually, the hefty carp found its way into the bottom of our net.  One wet, slimy high five later we were back at it, with a new approach. 

For the next two hours, we landed fish after fish.  Most often, we'd both be hooked up at the same time hollering at each other from across the lake, smiles deep into our cheeks.  After landing 6-7 of them each, we decided we should land a few more and get on the road.  At this point, my arm was already getting tired and I kept putting a deeper bend into my 5wt with each successive 8-12 lb carp.  Sure enough, we both hooked up again and recognized this as the last of our fish.  Muscling it closer to my net, my rod exploded from the pressure.  After landing it and raising the beast into the air as Aaron did the same with his, my head was telling me, "Just one more" but my new five piece rod was a clear signal to both of us that this little mid trip divine intervention had come to an end.  An oasis in the high desert of the Eastern Sierra, a pause in our journey home and the elusive Eastern Sierra bone fish had been bagged.  We spent the next few hours of our trip in utter disbelief.  What had just happened was truly epic and unexpected.  From time to time that boring ride home from a weekend road trip can really take a turn for the better.  


Every trip to the river tells a different story.  Some stories we end up falling in love with and others are those made of nightmares.  A few weekends back two buddies and I went up to one of my favorite rivers.  Every time I slide on the waders and step foot off the bank and into this river's cold waters I find my mind swirling with high hopes.  Could this be the day?  Big fish?  Prolific hatches?  The fight of a lifetime?  I love that about fishing.  It almost forces you to be an optimist. 

The three of us hit the water early in the morning, probably too early for the fish and bugs but we were fired up and wanted to get our flies wet.  A few hours of wading, casting, and changing bugs had gone by before we had any excitement between the three of us.  Of course... the guy on his first fly fishing trip was the one to dace with a local trout first.  I was up river when I heard Aaron holler like I hadn't heard before.  I looked back and Kevin's rod was bent in half!  With curiosity I moved down stream to see what he'd brought to the net.  Peering between his hands from the other side of the river, the fish looked like it had some real length.  Aaron snapped a few photos before letting the beast head back into the frigid depths of the river.  By all accounts, Kevin's first trout on a fly rod was a 23" brown trout.  Not bad if you ask me.    

Aaron and I were understandably excited for Kevin's virgin foray into fly fishing for trout.  We also chalked it up to a little beginner's luck.  This particular river doesn't give up it's fish easily.  As relatively experience fly anglers we were hoping to land a solid fish or two over the weekend, but a 23" brown as your first trout on a fly rod?  Well...that doesn't really even sound fair. 

We moved on from that spot to another likely section of river.  As soon as the bugs started popping off, I came tight on a solid rainbow.  We measured it on the net and got it back into the water quickly.  Twenty-two inches of wild rainbow trout had me sitting amongst the grass with an ear-to-ear grin.  Stoked!  Aaron was now the odd man out.  

The rest of the day we slogged on, looking for more signs of life.  Sipping trout in the foam line.  A flash at a streamer.  Something.  As the sun set Aaron and I both had a few nice fish come up to inspect our drifting dries, but nothing hooked up for us.  A solid 12 hours of fishing and Aaron hadn't even had a fish on the line.  To make matters worse, Kevin and I had both landed (and celebrated with) some notable fish. I'm sure the minutes before falling asleep had Aaron reflecting on the day and making plans for the next. 

We were up early again on Sunday, but waited for the bugs before we started fishing in earnest.  The first hour or so of the day we went to some of our favorite runs before trying one last spot, a spot we'd never tried before.  With a solid fish under my belt, I let Aaron take first shot at the run.  It looked like a really promising section of river.  The car was packed up, spare rods were tucked away in the rod tubes, and the car was gassed up and ready for home.  We just had to give this one run a try before sitting in traffic on the way back to San Francisco.  We're basically done right?  

I broke out the camera in hopes of getting a few good shots in the less than ideal lighting and Aaron started drifting his flies between rocks and along current seams.  Then...boom, it happened. I looked back down river and he had a fish on the other end of his line!  There was a good little battle in the high current and I grabbed the net to make sure we made this one count.  A few minutes later, Aaron had a beautiful brown trout (his spirit animal) in hand.  Needless to say he had a massive smile on his face and was beyond happy with a 21" brown.  After releasing it to the river where it belonged, we walked back up to the car and packed up for the ride home. 

The great thing about this river is that it's always a challenge.  The reward, however, is usually well worth the effort and time.  It takes patience, confidence, and a commitment to the process in order to land these fish on a regular basis.  We had logged some some solid time on the river and came away with some stories, time to reflect, and 66" of trout on three hook sets.  If it weren't for persistence, that last run just might have been left for the next trip.