Sunday, July 03, 2005
I cast the little Wonder Buggger above the head of the second pool. It dead drifted a little ways before it swung across the ledge and through the the deep green water below. I imagined my little baitfish pattern trying to escape the strong current to hide amongst the rocks in the slower water. Strip, mend, strip, pause, strip, strip, mend, actions that imparted the chaotic movements of a fleeing morsel. Cast, retrieve and imagine.
And so it went until my line when tight, pulling out the tiny loop of slack I had in my left hand. I felt, at the far end of my fly line, the dull throbbing of a big fish. Tug...tug...tug, the pulses that your fingers feel as every shake of the fish's head is transmitted up the line. If cuttthroat trout represent the native beauty of the Mountain West then bull trout represent native stubborness. He fought the battle from the bottom of the deepest slots and behind the fastest currents neither giving or taking line.
The fish hovered in the current invisibly. His coloration, spots of varying brightness on the pale gray backgound of his flanks, allowed his form to fade into the cobbled river bottom. Though I could see where the fish should be I saw only water and stone.
Ultimately the ancient fish did yield. At the end of the battle he slid reluctantly into the net only to immediately slide out again. The large bull trout was as long as my landing net, handle and all. With wet hands I gently handled the fish taking care not to squeeze too hard. He had inhaled the fly, the hook was impaled in the back of his kyped maw. With little trouble and great urgency I removed the hook. I held his body headfirst into the current, realesed him, then watched the fish disappear into the green depths of the river.