September 7 & 8, 2013
As the sun pokes over the mountains the body isn’t feeling so good. I fished as hard as you physically can the last couple days followed by a lot of celebrating last night. The house is shambles. A puddle surrounds my wading shoes on the kitchen floor. There’s mud. There are loose flies. There are half eaten snacks lying about. It’s an absolute mess. But there’s a plaque. The Jackson Hole One Fly 2013 is over. The Good Times Team took 5th place I’m the individual champ.
September 7 – Day 1
As you know by now I’m one of the four contestants on my friend Gary Eckman’s Good Times Team in the Jackson Hole One Fly. I left the house for the South Fork at 5:30 AM with my opponent and friend Eric Dobkin to compete. Eric and I fished with Ed Emory. Ed is also a good friend and a long time guide on the South Fork River and served as our guide and judge for the day.
Eric has far less fly fishing experience than myself and despite the fact that we were competing against each other I helped him in any way I could. I was fishing a marabou muddler streamer because it worked so well for me on the South Fork on Wednesday and therefore advised Eric to go with a streamer too.
When you use one fly for an entire day it needs to be durable. Teammate Scott Sanchez always ties my fly. Regardless of how many fish I catch, bushes I hook or casts I make, Scotts bombproof fly always stays together. Eric didn’t have such a fly so I provided him a brown hackled bugger Scott tied me for the contest years back.
We were on the lower canyon stretch of the South Fork where the competition began at 8:30 AM. There were about six boats and therefore ten other contestants on the same water. Ed had a good strategy for us of staying ahead of everyone else as much as possible. This way the fish would be unmolested and be more likely to eat our flies. The plan went well and by 9:30 I’d put five quality fish on the score sheet ranging from 15” to 20”. Eric had three up to 17”.
To succeed in the One Fly it’s absolutely imperative that you get six measurable fish on the score sheet. The way the first hour of fishing went it seemed Eric and I would blow the six fish goal away. But I’ve not seen fishing shut off like it did today. By the time the clock struck 10 AM it went from a fish every couple minutes to absolutely nothing. From 10 until 3 Eric and I landed a mere three small 2 point fish. It was unbelievable how the fish stopped feeding.
Competition time ends at 4 PM and your score is complete for Day 1. At 3:15 I was sweating the fact that my score sheet was still short a fish. I’d been pounding away the banks and drop-offs like a mad man in search of this one sizeable fish but nothing. Then at last a huge brown ripped out from an undercut and ate my fly.
I stuck the 20” plus brown good and like many big browns his fight didn’t start immediately. If you’re not about the fight (In the One Fly less fight is better) and you work fast sometimes you can get a big brown like this to the net so fast he doesn’t know what happened. I tried to do exactly that because we were just starting to float down a fast narrow shallow chute with fallen trees on both sides. But when I got him close enough to net Ed had to man the oars and couldn’t get him for me. I attempted to do it myself and I got the net within inches of the brown but then he took off and all hell broke loose.
After the close look it appeared the massive brown trout was 23” or more. A fish of this size would score hundreds of points and perhaps also win big fish of the competition. I had to get him. By now we were drifting fast and sideways down the chute. We were sideways only because Ed let the oars go for a second to try and help. Unfortunately the brown took my leader around the oar and then the boat went over the top of him. I got that sick feeling and seconds later my monster fish was gone. Luckily I still had my fly.
I only allow myself five minutes to be upset about something like this. Today I didn’t have five minutes to dwell on it so I checked my leader and started casting again. At 3:30 I hooked and landed an 18” cuttbow and saved my day. I scored 587 points which puts me in 4th place over all and helped our team to the top ten.
September 8 – Day 2
A year ago after Day 1 in the 2012 Jackson Hole One Fly I was in 1st place. I had a good chance to win but unfortunately Day 2 dropped me to 7th overall. After Day 1 this year I found myself in 4th. The difference this year is that today I was going to Pacific to Deadman’s on the Snake River, a section where I had a good chance at some big high scoring fish. I was also matched up with long time friend Paul Bruun as my opponent and friend Travis Taylor as our guide and judge.
On the drive up to Pacific Creek Paul, Travis and I discussed our strategies all of which circulated on whether to fish a big dry fly or a small one. Then we saw the Snake and we were sad to see it was brown with mud. There goes our fishing we said – we’re screwed. There went my chance to win the One Fly.
The mud was coming from the Buffalo River and Spread Creek, both of which received some big rain upstream last night. Dry flies and muddy water don’t mix. Paul and I shifted gears and opted to fish streamers. Paul went with a shiny bright colored kreelex and I put back on the marabou muddler. Rather than go with the olive and white I fished yesterday I went with a black and yellow, colors that show up nicely in mud.
Pacific Creek boat launch is about ¼ mile upstream of where the muddy Buffalo River dumps in. What this meant to us and the other five boats and contestants was that we were going to enjoy this short section of clear water as long as we could. At 8:30 the bell went off and boats shot to the bank and we all drifted down tossing our bugs. It appeared almost everyone went with a streamer of some sort.
Travis dug the oars deep allowing Paul and I a shot at every inch of water. We were really going to milk this clear water for all it had. I picked up a small non measurable 2 pointer and Paul stung a good fish but that was it before we got to the Buffalo.
The muddy Buffalo comes from river left. It takes about a half mile for the mud to mix with the Snake completely giving us clear water on river right and crystal clear water going into the famous Osprey Channel. The Osprey Channel is narrow so it’s tough from a boat, especially for me in the back but nonetheless it was still our best choice.
An amazing thing happened right away. Travis dropped anchor and Paul and I cast and swung our streamers through the hole below us. I hooked up to a 12” brown. As I stripped him in a monster cutthroat well over 20” tried to eat him! Unfortunately the beast slipped back down in his pool and despite our efforts to catch him he never showed himself again. Many of us have seen this before only its usually the brown eating the cutthroat.
At the mouth of the Osprey Channel to the Snake it widens up significantly. Paul opted to dredge the middle of the river and left me the bank. I popped a risky cast under a leaning conifer and hooked and landed a 21” cutty – I was on the board with a huge one!
That was it for the channel and inside I kind of figured that big fish would be my only. We reentered the Snake and started floating down through the dirty water. It didn’t seem as bad as an hour earlier which meant it was clearing. To my delight I quickly picked up and 18” cutty. That proved my fly worked in the mud and it was game on. I knew I was going to fill my score card.
And fill my score card I did. Travis worked his butt off for Paul and I right to the bitter end. At the end of the day I scored 22 fish and measured seven. Four were big fish, the 21”, 18”, 20” and 17”. I scored 604 points for the day. The only bad news was Paul had a tough day. His kreelex didn’t work well at all and then disaster struck when Paul lost his fly around 1 PM.
I had excellent stretches, superb fishing guides and great boat mates this year. And sure enough it added up to success. Team Good Times got 5th place and I won the Jackson Hole One Fly by a large margin. I also got the big fish award for Sunday with my 21” Snake River Cutthroat and this was cool because Granny and I put $100 on me for the big fish pool. We won $1000!!!!!!!!!!! Sweet!
Perhaps more exciting then me doing well in the One Fly is that our friends Andy and Jessica won the Grand Raffle Prize, a Hyde drift boat package valued at nearly $10,000! It’s truly a boat that they could never afford and we are so happy for them. So me winning the One Fly, Jesse and Andy wining the boat – a huge group of us Victor, Idaho folks had to celebrate at the Knotty Pine till the wee hours. Thus I’m not feeling so great this morning. But that’s life. I’d do it all again in a second!
I think I’m putting the rods away for a few days. I fished my butt off lately and need to recover. We’ll see. There is some talk of chasing the carp this week. Stay tuned. . .