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Let me start this post off by telling you that this trip was expensive to me. I saved for a long time for this trip. Future trips to Idaho did not cost nearly as much and have been every bit as rewarding.
Saturday Day One
I awoke on Saturday about as excited as a 60 year old man can be and still survive. The rest of my fishing party was not to arrive until Sunday. I ordered breakfast and met my guide for the day, Tracy. Over breakfast he asked me if I wanted to catch a lot of fish or if I would rather take a shot at a trophy. Since it was my first day with 5 other days left I did what any good ole' boy would do and opted to go after the big one. After breakfast we took the almost 1 hour drive to the Missouri River. We went by the famed 3 Forks where Lewis and Clark camped on their Western Expedition. Tracy knew all the history of the area and that added tremendously to the experience.
Tracy is a young man in his late 20's. We discussed how we were going to approach the day. Weather was near perfect. High 40's, overcast and no wind. We started out fishing a bead head nymph with a crawfish dropper. I was surprised that we fished in the same kind of water as I was used to in Tennessee. Fishing that dropper rig involved very easy casting straight back and out. The mending was like it was back home in Tennessee so I got comfortable pretty quickly. Tracy showed me several techniques to either slow my drift or speed it up as necessary to get the maximum drift from each cast. We were not on the water for more than 10 minutes and I hooked my first Montana rainbow. I knew immediately this was not the 10 to 14 inch fish I was accustomed to fishing for in the Smokey Mountains. I was totally unprepared for the speed and power of that fish. It jumped over and over, stripped my line so fast that it burned my fingers. It was a really big rainbow! Tracy did a great job coaching me but it ran toward me, I got careless and allowed too much slack at the wrong time and the fish was gone. Wow! I had just been schooled. It was a valuable lesson. I had never had so much fun in a losing effort as with that fish. Lesson learned. I didn't lose another hookup the entire trip. Hooking and playing that fish will remain imbedded in my memory for as long as I live. Tracy said that it was a big rainbow but not to worry as there were many more just like it still swimming in the river. He was right and we found them, hooked them and netted them. Dropper rigs, dries and streamers all were in play. Several fish in excess of 20 inches came to the drift boat that day. First day out and half my goal for the trip was in the history book. I had my rainbow. He ate a size 20 Parachute Adams. Here is Tracy with that fish.
That daywill live forever in my mind. It can never be duplicated. That night at dinner I came to realize that if I did not catch another fish my trip of a lifetime had been made. With 5 days still left to fish I was relaxed and really enjoyed my dinner and bed that Saturday night. I would meet the rest of my group for breakfast on Sunday morning. I slept like a baby
As Casey Stengel once said:
"There comes a time in every man's life, and I've had plenty of them." That Saturday was one of those days for me.
Wow, that's a fine trout!
Great story, and great trout, David.
Excellent day, great story of a lifetime and I can not wait to see the rest
Years ago when I fly fished in Scotland I used to dream of fishing in Montana, never made it though, and never caught such good fish .
that must have been an unbelievable experience catching a rainbow that big. I had always thought (in ignorance or lack of experience) that surely a rainbow compared to a black bass lb/lb can't pull your string as hard as a bass. Boy was I surprised when I caught a few in a little stream that carried irrigation tailwater back to the snake river in Idaho. I don't think I caught anything over a pound and a half but they pulled like a much larger sized bass. Congratulations on the trophy rainbow.
Thanks Alan. Yeah I fish for both and pound for pound nothing is quite as exciting as a hot rainbow on a fly rod.