Fishin’ with Cooper

blog_Aug_13_2010_1[1] Today was fishing with Cooper day. I don’t’ get to fish with Cooper too often because he’s 14. It seems half the summer is over before we get our first day out together and then before you know it school starts again. Cooper is the son of my friend Gary Eckman whom I wrote about on August 6th. Cooper would have joined Gary and me last Friday but he got into a dirt bike accident that required a heap of stitches in his knee and was not allowed off the couch until things started to heal.

Cooper is in charge of where we fish when he goes. He recently returned from an exciting trip to Alaska in which he caught a lot of BIG fish such as halibut, lingcod and golden eye. With that in mind, today he was in search of more big fish. He’s had most blog_Aug_13_2010_2[1] of his good luck over the years on the South Fork of the Snake so we did a repeat of what Gary and I did last week – the Upper South Fork from the Irwin Slide to Conant.

The boys picked me up at 9 am. I was glad for the late start as I’ve been fishing so much that I’m behind in everything from art to paying bills. Mornings are productive times for me. Once we got going Cooper was quick to flash his injured stitched up knee to me. It must have been an ugly mess when the accident happened because even though the wreck was two weeks ago his knee still looks kind of gross.

Once at the river we launched and Gary rowed us directly to the riffle where we blog_Aug_13_2010_3[1]spanked fish last week. We were early. We pulled into our hot spot and beached the  boat on a gravel bar. We sat and watched over cokes hoping to see some big cutthroats begin to rise. I was starting to think they moved out to the main river when the first fish barely broke the surface. This big cutty took a PMD by making less than a two inch ring on the surface. It was the true definition of the word sip. I told Cooper to be ready and he excitedly grabbed his rod and made an approach.

The fish may not have been quite ready to eat yet. Cooper made some casts with one of my Vladi CDC PMD’s but to no avail. I knew it was the right fly but Cooper was blog_Aug_13_2010_4[1] having trouble keeping it afloat. With CDC flies you really need to aggressively false cast between drifts to keep them floating and looking good. Gary switched him to a beetle but even the beetle didn’t work. Eventually Cooper took a break and Gary went in there and quickly nailed one on a tiny light Cahill. Cuttys on the South Fork are not known for putting up dazzling fights but this one had us fooled into thinking he was a rainbow or a brown trout. He pealed off line and tried to wrap Gary in the log piles before Cooper finally got him netted. It was a nice fish, in fact, one of the bigger cutthroats I’ve seen on the South Fork.

Cooper took another crack at the riffle where several fish started rising more blog_Aug_13_2010_5[1] frequently, but again they would not cooperate. Just downstream of us in some slower water another trout began to feed. This trout became very consistent and even though Cooper had fish in front of him, the cutty downstream was too much for him to tolerate so he went after him. I considered talking him out of his move because often times these trout in the slower water are near impossible to catch. In such slow water they can scrutinize your fly and your light tippet can look like a rope. They also cruise around all over and you don’t know if you really got your fly in front of them or not. I didn’t want Cooper to go down stream, not get the fish and get discouraged. But then I thought better of saying anything. Cooper is a good angler and if anything, it would be a blog_Aug_13_2010_6[2] learning experience. Five minutes later Cooper called for the net.

Cooper was hooked up to the sneaky cutthroat trying feed without us knowing. Like Gary’s cutthroat, this scrapper also put on a surprisingly good fight. Cooper and his 5-weight handled the battle like a pro and then he gave me a few pointers on when to net his fish. I listened and I scooped up the heavily spotted cutthroat on the first try.

We didn’t exactly spank the fish today like Gary and I did last week, but it was pretty darn good. Between the three of us we probably landed a dozen nice cutthroats, a brown, a rainbow and a quality whitefish. My highlight of the day wasn’t Cooper catching his cutthroat from the slow blog_Aug_13_2010_7[1] water at our first stop, but rather when Cooper perfectly executed a difficult cast to a rising fish far back in a cave at the base of a rock cliff. He had to do a side arm flip cast to get his fly to the trout. That’s not to mention all the willows he had to avoid with his back cast. Once he made the cast it was all you could do to see the tiny light Cahill he was using because of the darkness in the cave. But Cooper patiently worked to this fish for at least ten minutes until he hooked another dandy of a cutthroat.

The three of us enjoyed a great day on the water and we’re all lined up for another visit to the South Fork next Friday. I really get a kick out of watching kids get into the blog_Aug_13_2010_8[1] fishing and Cooper is over the top like I was at the same age. For me I believe this was my seventh day of fishing in eight days. I don’t mean to brag but I haven’t fished through a summer like this since I was Cooper’s age – before I got my first summer job over thirty years ago!

Cooper took another crack at the riffle where several fish started rising more frequently, but again they would not cooperate. Just downstream of us in some slower water another trout began to feed. This trout became very consistent and even though Cooper had fish in front of him, the cutty downstream was too much for him to tolerate so he went after him. I blog_Aug_13_2010_9[1] considered talking him out of his move because often times these trout in the slower water are near impossible to catch. In such slow water they can scrutinize your fly and your light tippet can look like a rope. They also cruise around all over and you don’t know if you really got your fly in front of them or not. I didn’t want Cooper to go down stream, not get the fish and get discouraged. But then I thought better of saying anything. Cooper is a good angler and if anything, it would be a learning experience. Five minutes later Cooper called for the net.

Cooper was hooked up to the sneaky cutthroat trying feed without us knowing. Like Gary’s cutthroat, this scrapper also put on a surprisingly good fight. Cooper and his 5-weight handled the battle like a pro and then he gave me a few pointers on when to net his fish. I listened and I scooped up the heavily spotted cutthroat on the first try.

We didn’t exactly spank the fish today like Gary and I did last week, but it was pretty blog_Aug_13_2010_10[1] darn good. Between the three of us we probably landed a dozen nice cutthroats, a brown, a rainbow and a quality whitefish. My highlight of the day wasn’t Cooper catching his cutthroat from the slow water at our first stop, but rather when Cooper perfectly executed a difficult cast to a rising fish far back in a cave at the base of a rock cliff. He had to do a side arm flip cast to get his fly to the trout. That’s not to mention all the willows he had to avoid with his back cast. Once he made the cast it was all you could do to see the tiny light Cahill he was using because of the darkness in the cave. But Cooper patiently worked to this fish for at least ten minutes until he hooked another dandy of a cutthroat.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing web site

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