We went to bed under a brilliant starry night but woke up to drizzle. Rain was not in the forecast for today so I was surprised when I woke up to it bouncing off the Explorer. With or without rain, I was bound for the Last Chance parking lot where Henry’s Fork Day takes place. This involves a series of events starting with $5 breakfast then raffles, silent auctions, casting competitions and more. I had to be home by 4 pm today because Granny and I have to attend Rob Parkins 40th birthday party tonight. (Rob is fishing buddy and has been featured on this blog several times). With that in mind, I wanted to see as many friends as possible that are here for Henry’s Fork Day over the $5 breakfast and get in a few hours fishing before leaving.
Breakfast was delicious and an enjoyable visit with friends. One friend, an amazing character, “Whitefish Ed”, always fishes in fluorescent clothes and whatever else he can get his hands on that is glowing in color. Most of his gear is even in bright colors including his rods, reels and fly lines. However, Ed’s never been able to nail down a pair of fluorescent waders. So he came up with a clever idea to raise the HFF a few bucks. He purchased a pair of new waders and bought a set of fluorescent paints. Then he charged folks a 1$ to sign the waders. He now has a gaudy pair of waders with several hundred fluorescent signatures on it. I wish I could explain Ed for you but all I can say he’s a great guy and don’t be scared if you see him on the river.
After breakfast the drizzle stopped but it was cold. I headed into the Ranch wearing layers of clothes. I walked all the way to a place we call Bonefish Flats and got comfortable on the bank to wait for some hatches and rising fish. The walk to Bonefish takes about 45 minutes and during that time the clouds burnt off completely and now I was hot. By the time I reorganized I spotted a huge rainbow rising behind an island. The river was dead calm and I could see this fishes huge head breaking the surface just munching on something. Excited, I stealthily worked my way across the river and into casting range. By now the rainbow had travelled upstream about 100ft from where I spotted him feeding. Occasionally these feeding hawgs will move all over the place while you try to present your fly to them. You think you’re to him and land your fly only to see him rise ten feet further away from you. It ends up that I chased this particular fish up and down Bonefish Flats and around an area of islands while he continued to feed and move. I never got more than a couple casts to him. My unsuccessful chase lasted four hours before the annoying fish finally stopped feeding!
Humiliated, I began the long walk back to the car. Along the way a few friends who observed my lengthy unsuccessful battle joked with me about it. We’ve all been there a time or two and it’s trout like that that makes the Ranch of the Henry’s Fork a place we love. There’s no guarantee you’re going to catch a fish no matter how good you are and any given day can be a humbling experience. Personally, I love such a fishing challenge and that’s why I go back over and over.
Just as fast as you get your butt absolutely kicked by a fish you miraculously find a cooperative one. When I was half way back to the parking lot I saw a head. There were no bugs on the water that I could see, but perhaps this fish saw something I didn’t. I watched and sure enough, I had a decent fish rising before me. I knew it was a gift from the fish Gods and got into place to present my fly. It wasn’t a complete gift. I had to change flies and the fish stopped rising for a few minutes. But, I waited him out in a desperate plea to not get skunked. Miraculously I got him to eat a flying ant pattern. He was a burly 18”er that made my morning – you got to love the Fork!