“He’s comin’ to you Pop.” My brother yelled it as he reeled in his line and I barreled towards him. I was slipping, sliding, wading and floating my way downstream while I fought to keep the rod tip up, but out of the overhanging branches and tall grass along a high bank that hugged waist-high water on the Yakima River. I had a big fish on and was moving downstream quick to keep it that way.
On the surface Phil’s experience on the Dream Stream and my own seems anything but similar. Phil Tereyla is a professional fly fishing guide, born and raised in Colorado, who loves targeting big brown trout on the Dream Stream section of the South Platte River. My time fishing the Dream Stream was twenty years ago, as a beginner fly fisher going to school in Colorado, who was more concerned with catching ANY fish, let alone big browns. But the Dream Stream gave us both something very much the same. A challenge. And a hope for a great fish, that could only be caught by embracing that challenge.
“I’m hung up.” My brother looked back from the bow of the drift boat then picked up line to cast while I bent the rod deep and gave a few jerks. We were anchored at the head of a long cut bank along the Big Hole river. Wet grass dried in the breeze and a grey sky rolled against the hills beyond the bank. I needed a long cast upstream and quick mends to get the flies down and I had been bumping bottom here and there since we stopped. My father watched from his hunched forward position while I worked to get free from above him. Nothing doing. I reeled in all my line and grabbed it tight, then repositioned my efforts with the rod to work angles that might free the hook. Satisfied with my best efforts I stood resigned to break off and lose the flies. In that moment the taught line slid. A few inches maybe, but upstream. I was quiet, and then, “I can’t be hung up. The line just moved.”
It all tends to happen fast. Anticipation is replaced by exhilaration when a trout takes your fly. Immediately, there is a moment of holding your breath, hoping the hook set will stick, and then it is right down to the business of landing the fish --- but wait! Don’t lose a nice trout speeding to get him on the reel.
There was enough light by the time I drove over the bridge. I pulled the steering wheel and raised up in my seat to see the river over concrete.