September 20, 2010
I’m not so sure it was entirely exhaustion that caused Micah Kruger a.k.a. Meeks, Dougy and I to struggle to get to the back porch this morning, but we struggled. Luckily the coffee was good and the sun warmed us up fast. In no time our plan for the day began to form. Doug was quick to say he thought it was best he drive back to Livingston Montana. I thought about getting some work done but now that Meeks lives in Oregon we rarely get to fish together, we were fishing.
As Doug headed north Meeks and I broke for the Middle Nunya. The last time I floated on the Nunya was with Granny a good month ago and the fishing was excellent. After the challenging two days we experienced on the South Fork of the Snake River, a chance at some better fishing made total sense. Once again the weather was perfect. We have nice Septembers in the Yellowstone area but this one has been one to remember. As I pushed off from the boat ramp, rising fish dotted the river ahead.
Meeks had two hopper patterns rigged up about two feet apart. The Nunya is slow moving and the resident trout have plenty of opportunity to recognize a fake from the real thing. I wasn’t too confident in the big flies but I figured I’d watch Meeks try them. Fish after fish, Meeks drifted his hoppers without a take.
“Meeks we need to go small today”, I stated.
I had a small dry already rigged on my 4-weight Ross so Meeks grabbed the oars and told me to give it a whirl. The fly I had on was one of my CDC Vladi Trzebunia dry flies size 18. The pattern always works and sure enough the first riser I presented it too ate. It was a nice rainbow that began the fight down deep but jumped and broke me off.
We assumed we had it figured out after that rainbow nailed my small dry on the first cast, but it still wasn’t that easy. I couldn’t find another of my Vladi flies so I tied on a Mahogany Dun. The Lawson’s Thorax Mahogany almost never lets me down but the first few trout I cast too refused it. Meanwhile Meeks too was changing through various flies with poor results. These fish were tough. I dug deeper into my tackle bag and finally I stumbled into a well used CDC fly. Sure enough, the first fish I fed it too ate it and we were on the boards.
That first landed fish was like magic. I’d swear that for the next few hours every fish we showed that fly too ate it. Meeks and I took turns with my 4-weight and the productive European fly. We landed an array of rainbows, cutthroats and brook trout. One of our highlights today included a beautiful rainbow we found rising tight to the bank. He was rising like a porpoise with his back completely breaking the surface every time he rose. He was so cool looking we kicked back and watched him for about five minutes. He was in difficult spot to drift a fly too but I miraculously got it there to him thanks to a gust of wind. I wasn’t too surprised when he ate but was when I actually felt him fighting on the end of my line. I thought for sure I had too much slack. Minutes later I was releasing a hefty Nunya rainbow. Meeks too landed a memorable fish today. He watched the white lips of a quality cutthroat move from about six feet down to rise to the small fly. If you haven’t ever experienced the leisurely take of a cutthroat it’s something you must do. They do it so slowly that even the most experienced anglers often pull the fly away before the cutty eats it. Somehow, Meeks kept his cool and watched those white lips close down on the fly before he struck. Then when he did strike, it was perfect, the fish was there and he too landed the gorgeously fall colored cutthroat trout.
The last three days have been spectacular. Fishing with old friends is something that can’t be beat. We covered a lot of water from the near forty miles of South Fork to the five miles of the Nunya. It will be awhile before we do it again together but we certainly will. Tonight begins Granny’s’ weekend and I have a funny felling I’ll be right back on the Nunya tomorrow. Stay tuned.