As fall begins to set in, the feesh are getting their eat on and it was time for the usual suspects (Derek and I) to take a quick trip to a little-known and sluggish tailwater in search of some fat tails. Time would be short and I was hopeful.

Chapter 1: Torpedo

It began to get dark when I approached a spot where the water dumped into some flat stuff. I was holstered up with a nymphing rig and one for the big (or medium rather…that’s a discussion for another time) uglies. After a few decent drifts with the nymph rig I decided the run looked just too perfect and hoggish and needed a streamer ripped right through its perfect little face. Even though this water is predominantly rainbow trout, it is after all fall time which as most anglers think of as the time to throw big ugly streamers, right? Well, I guess I’ll let the fish decide. I slapped the bug down right at the banks edge and gave it a few aggressive strips. No sooner had I done so that I saw a wake so intense that it seemed more proper to have wakeboard in hand rather than a measly fly rod. I waited for the impending destruction only to feel…nothing. My heart was pounding in my chest. I gathered myself but couldn’t help keep crazy thoughts out of my head. I returned to the real world and placed a few casts elsewhere in hopes that the unseen submarine would return to it’s stealthy lie. A moment passed and I placed another cast hoping to draw the beast from it’s lair once again. The V appeared as the underlying torpedo locked into my fly and stopped it dead. I ripped a strip set and the fight was on. The V-wake didn’t lie and I could immediately feel the power of an impressive specimen. Hard as I might, to muscle the fish in, it wouldn’t be hurried. The trout bull-dogged me around for close to five minutes. I was grateful there was nothing but slow current in the stretch below me – otherwise I would have assuredly been chasing this fish all night. I finally hauled the hen in and fell to my knees. What a fish! Derek was not close by and had forgotten his phone in the car, so I attempted to quickly try and setup a timed shot as to preserve memories of this fish but quickly abandoned that plan after one ridiculous and rushed attempt. I decided to post the picture just for your viewing pleasure. Pretty sweet, right?fishing-blooper


Chapter 2: After-Nap Rocket Ships

Derek’s turn: I closed my eyes as I laid my head on a rock with my beanie folded in half for a makeshift pillow.  I could already hear Nate snoring as I drifted off.  An hour passed as thought it were a minute. Dreaming of large rainbows and browns, I was being shaken by Nate to wake up.  I looked around completely confused by the scene in front of me.  I shook my head and blinked my eyes, rubbing off the sleepiness.  It was all coming back to me, I wasn’t in bed, I was laying in a pile of rock, dirt and grass with the sound of running water in the near distance.  Seriously, how is it this hot during the last few days of September?  I held my nalgene bottle up toward the sun and looked to see how much water was left, not much.  My mouth felt like I had just swallowed cotton balls and the remains were clinging to the back of my throat and tongue.  The walk back to the car to get water hardly seemed worth it as it was starting to get late so I decided to stay put and finish the day out. We had been fishing for about 10 hours straight and laid down to give our bodies and the water a rest.  The day was far from over and as the confusion left me, it was replaced by excitement.  We crept back into position to the hole that had thus far produced some pretty amazing fish, we had been trading off fishing the pool each time the other caught a fish.  One spotting and the other tossing nymphs into a pool that was roughly the size of a pickup.  Fishing on our knees for most of the day crouched behind tufts of grass to conceal our presence had been the only thing that had brought any action.  We had began the day before the sun rose above mountains.  None of the fish had come easy, but that was to be expected.

We were launching a double nymph rig under small white indicators to match the foam being created at the heads of the pools.  The fish were weary of typical indicators and seemed to avoid anything trailing a brightly colored float passing over their heads. We made cast after cast until one of the fish decided our offering was worthy, then the fun began!  We had both slowly positioned ourselves as close to the edge of the stream bed as possible keeping low and using any cover available. I had placed several casts in the money area when I came tight on a good fish.  Immediately after the hook set the bow blitzed downstream peeling line with it. I kept a low profile hunched over until I thought I would be out of sight of the other fish and then gave pursuit.  Reeling in as fast as possible when allowed and bowing the rod as the fish demanded working to tire the over-sized rainbow into submission.  The fish didn’t come in without a fight jumping and head shaking to throw the hook, running to escape and digging deep to try and bury its head in the weeds.  It wasn’t long before the 2x flouro and steady pressure from my 6wt guided the fish into the net.  High fives and shouts of joy were in order as we finally got a solid glimpse of the trout now resting in the net.  A few quick pictures before the fish sprayed me with water as it headed home. Refreshed from the nap, it felt like fish number one of the day and not a bad way to start things off.

Nate’s turn: It was my turn to hook up and little did I know I was about to hook the nose of a rocket ship. Some of the fish in this water put up a tussle while others simply go utterly bonkers when hooked. This was one of the latter type. My indicator tanked and a headshake confirmed I hadn’t just hooked up on the bottom again. Within the next second or two the fish came up and did an inverted swirl of sorts on the surface revealing her plump, light-skinned belly. Immediately after re-immersing herself she absolutely RIPPED of downstream like a freaking rocket ship. I have honestly NEVER seen a fish propel like that in my entire life (I have never fished salt!). As I watched it wiz by my from my position up on the bank I could clearly see the streamlined trout as it outran my flyline behind it. I palmed my reel and chased after it in order to avoid some sketchyness in the tangles that were more prevalent downstream. This fish was hot. Oh, so hot. I’m probably being redundant but just recalling the fight with this fish gets my heart rate up. Derek decided to grab my camera to take a few shots of the bendo – the unfortunate thing was that my camera was still in ‘manual’ mode and all the subsequent shots were extremely overexposed. After some crazy blitzes the fish decided to go down, down into the weeds. I felt a feeling that no fisherman likes: the tight, lifeless feeling of a fish intermingling with some underwater obstacles. My heart sunk a little but I kept applying constant pressure in hopes of wrenching the fish loose. It paid off and I eventually freed the fish from the wreckage and eventually worked the fish into Derek’s livewell of a net. Booya. The terrorist ended up being the fish of the trip and a quick pairing with the net showed  its tight and thick body stretched out to just over 27-inches. I also lucked out and was able to salvage the photos enough (thank you RAW!!) to capture the essence of the fish until I’m old and grey.

Chapter 3: Hit and Run

The sun had long since disappeared but we were still tossing bugs. We had headed to some new water in hopes of finding some angry brown trout. There is a large, calm pool in particular that we hoped would be home to some wandering brownies with attitude. Armed with some bushy bugs to push some water and some mice we hit the water. As I stood at the waters edge I stripped a bunch of line off and peered out in the darkness. Things were still. The rod loaded and laid out my sink tip and I let it sit for a quick twenty count. Five or six jerky strips and my line stopped dead. Set! The fish started flopping lazily on the surface and the next few moments still puzzle me. The flopping alternated with the line going limp as I desperately stripped line and stumbled back to keep tight. I wasn’t exactly sure what I had on my line. Finally, after some flopping around I could feel some real weight as the fish decided it didn’t like the sting. It felt like the fish we had come for. No sooner had my excitement climaxed then my line again went limp. It’s one of those fish that will have me wondering and my heart aching forever. Would have undoubtedly been the biggest brown I’ve yet to hold. I guess that’s my invite back!

Chapter 4: Derek’s Glowbugs

The sun had set and the darkness had completely engulfed us.  I tied on my latest creation: a glow-in-the-dark clouser minnow.  I was uncertain how it would do but I figured it was worth a try.  Afterall, I had caught Bull Trout on something similar before when my fly fishing obsession had overthrown logic and convinced me fishing well into the night in the middle of prime grizzly country was a good idea. And all in an effort to unhook a fish and rub some trout scented bear attractor on my hands!  Well, this time around it payed off once again!  The thought was it would catch a fish quickly or it just wouldn’t at all.  Wasting no time, each hole only merited about 5 casts before moving on.  About the 3rd cast a crazy bow crashed the fly right in front of my feet.  I could easily see the fly swimming through the dark swirling water and was about to pick up for another cast when the fly disappeared in a violent assault.  I set the hook and immediately the fish came to the surface desperately trying to throw the hook, no dice.  The hook was firmly in place and held until Nate netted the fish.  Last fish of the night!  It was a good way to end the day.

Chapter 5: Red Bull no Vodka

It was late. Really late and we were nowhere close to home.  A quick stop at the gas station to refill and grab a few Red Bulls to keep our eyes open and on the road.  Switching off driving, taking naps and sipping energy drinks got us home and we pulled up to Nate’s as the sun was starting to peer over the mountains.  I made the final leg home and like a vampire trying to avoid the sun as I entered a dark bedroom and climbed under the covers to get some rest.  The effects from our caffeine impregnated drinks were wearing off as absolute fatigue set in and I once again dreamt about fish, big ones that only hours ago were released to fight another day. After all was said and done we had beheld some great fish. They varied in length and weight but none were shy of the 2-foot mark – what more could you hope for out of a fall fishing adventure?

About The Author

Chinese Boy

The ringleader at OSF, Nathan likes well-proportioned fish, moonlit walks by the river, and stripping streamers through dark lies on the dreariest of days. View full bio.