Your Most Memorable Fishing Story

Don Davis

Formerly FlyCatcherman, formerly Don_The_Fly
As I read through many of these posts I realize that we all Fly Fish because we love it and for many of us it has been a lifelong passion while others are beginning to enjoy the special nature of fly fishing.
I thought it might be interesting for some of us to share one or some of our most memorable times with a fly rod. I hope to read some of yours, here is only one mine;

The “Hatch”
Several years ago (in this decade) my fishing buddy and I took a trip to the Madison River area. We spent about a week on the Madison, Yellowstone, Henry’s Lake and the Henry’s Fork and some of the tributaries. On the third day my fishing buddy and I had spent most of the day on the Madison River around the Raynolds Pass area and enjoying ourselves on an early August afternoon. Having caught our share of browns and bows we went back to the cabin for a late lunch. During that time we decided to go to the Cabin Creek area just between Hebgen Dam and Quake Lake and fish the late afternoon/evening bite. We had no idea what was in store for us as we set out on the stream. The river was in a mid-summer flow, meaning it runs high for irrigation downstream so wading out in the river is difficult at best, so most of the fishing is close to the bank and fishing the ribbons of side channels. This is a dry fly fishing dream. 14” average, mostly rainbows that you can sight fish for.
It was nearing 6:30 and the sun had gone behind the mountain, but we still had a couple of hours of light left when it started; probably the biggest hatch of mayflies I have ever encountered on a stream before. Before I knew it the river bank on the other side was almost obscured from the clouds of mayflies and just like that the river started to boil. This was not a fish here and a fish there, it was fish everywhere and in places you would never imagine a fish to reside. As fast as I could I put on a size 14 Adams and flicked it out to the seam. I think the fish actually took the fly before it even hit the water. Release and cast again. This time the fly hit the water, but just barely, and wham, a beautiful 18” rainbow. This went on for over an hour with the largest brought to hand at around 20”. I’m certain there were bigger ones that we lost before getting them in.
Out in the bigger water, too far to cast to, we saw numerous rises and complete leaps of some very large fish. Browns, Bows or Bulls? Who knows but some were big at high single or even double digit weights and it was an incredible sight.
The sun was now starting to set and the hatch ebbed and the river calmed. The fish had eaten their dinner and a few were still coming up for dessert, but mostly quiet and calm now. Uncounted fish hooked, caught and released. The evening sun, no wind, warm temperatures, the mountain rising up all around you and we were two of three on the river to experience the “Hatch”. I might fish the rest of my life and never have that experience again.
My most memorable day on the water or the frustration of learnng how much I didn't really know!!

I had been fishing the put and take lakes for quite a few years and did quite well in these artificial fish catching factories. I had grown tired of the crowds and decided to go explore some other options and chose a lake that at that time had a 2 fish limit and a minimum 14" retension.

Well I finally found this lake from HELL and expected to knock the socks off these fish. How wrong and frustrated I was! Fished my tail off and not even a strike. I threw everything I had into that lake and concluded there were no fish in this miserable pond.

At dark I am pulling out and started chatting with an old fart and asked how he did. HA HA! "Not so good today" he says. "I had 5 or 6 on and landed 2 and kept this one little guy that was bleeding" The little guy was about 17"!!!! "Yep, you got to learn to fish different for these wild cutts. They aren't like those hatchery fish you've become use to."

That started a new concept in my grey matter. It took me nearly a full year to start to figure it out. That one very frustrating day has led me down a path that has turned my head from put and take lakes. I haven't had a 20 nor even a 10 fish day in many many years. But I have had some days of bringing some 20" plus wild cutts to hand and many days of 2 fish hook-ups sporting 14" and bigger wild cutts.

I learned more in that one day of fishing than any other single day ever!!!

The more you think you know, the less you actually know!! For every solution there are inumberabel more questions to ask and puzzles to solve.

wet line Dave
As with all fishers, I have many stories, and I can't pick out the one that is my favorite, but I can tell you the one that came to mind.

This story is from my early days in Arkansas, on a river most of you have never heard of. It was in the month of May. I had fished this particular river the week before, and knew the " mothers day" hatch was due, so the night before I packed my box with all the elk hair caddis I could tie in one week. About 8:00 that morning, I got to the river, strung up my Rod, wadered up. and made my way across the road to the trail that would take me to the river. As I approached the river I looked for signs that the size 18 caddis had started hatching, far as I could tell from the rivers edge, there was very little going on yet.
I made a couple of casts without getting into the water, nothing. I waded out the water was just above my shoes. Saw a flash in the water, I cast up stream of it about 5 ft, A hook up! nice little bow. Saw another flash, same action, same result. Soon fish were flashing and rising all over the place. About 2 hours later after catching "I don't know How many" fish, 10' to 16 inch bows and browns, I reminded my self "there are bigger fish
downstream", so I set off down stream. On getting there, the fish were slowing a bit, and being bigger, Hence older fish, were a little wiser, therefore a little more selective, so I skittered the fly across the surface a little, or delbritly drug it under water, then let it pop to the surface at the end of the drift. over the next several hours I hooked around 20 ish, and landed around half of those, most in the 16-18 inch range with one in the 20 inch department. Figuring I had all the fun that one person was entitled to in one day, I started back to the truck. About 100 feet from the trailhead, I noticed a guy fishing with a spinning rod and a spinning bubble trying to cast to a fish that was feeding underneath a limb that was touching the water, a sweeper is what we call em down south. He commented that he wasn't having any luck with his rig,... that maybe I could catch him with mine. Not liking the idea of catching another fellas fish, feeling like it might be pushing my luck, or stirring up bad Karma, I declined, but asked him if he wanted to borrow mine, he said he didn't know how to work a flyrod. Well, I learned him how to make a pile cast and float the fly down to the fish in the feeding lane, from above, well the fish got hooked and landed by this guy on his very first cast with a fly-rod. It was a 17 inch bow. He thanked me and allowed as to how he was going to talk his wife into letting him buy himself one of those fly-rods. Just then I heard a sound, coming from downstream, it was indistinct at first, then it became a soft drone, then around the bend of the river, that not thirty minuites before I had been fishing I saw this dark cloud that appeared to be hovering above the river. Pretty soon the cloud came close enough that I could make it out, .... It was the caddis flys! Millions and Millions of them. So many of them that together you could hear their wings fluttering! I don't know wether or not that means anything to any of you, but it did to me. :thumb:
So many.

There was the time in the fall when we hit a lake in the Caraboo that was peaking as all lakes do. Large lake but only a few big pods of fish. Once we found them it was epic. Rainbows to 13.5 on the scale. More fish in 5 days over 8 pounds than in a month in New Zealand. Other fishermen but they didn't figure out the bays. Moose in the coves beating bushes with their antlers. Great camp fires. Geat friends.

Strarght out of Lord of the Rings (actually). Poolburn Lake in New Zealand. Browns, not large, only up to about 6.5 or maybe 7 (not big over there). Look it up on the web - spectacular rock formations. One day Harry had 13 takes and 9 to hand walking the beach on drys. Huge crayfish. Nobody but us.

Neah Bay last summer. Largest coho for many years. Fog, fog and more fog. Knew where they were but couldn't get to them across the shipping lanes most days. Oh, but when we did.... A couple pushing 20 on cast flies, a lot in the 15 to 16 range and lots of 12 to 13. Steller Sealions, Orcas, Puffins etc. Wonderful few weekends.

Leaving for NZ in 12 days. Old friends, sent a camp over this year, new much water, so little time! Memories! W


wishing I was back from Krygyzstan...
Great stories everyone! :thumb: My most memorable time fishing thus far is rather lengthy but I'll do my best to explain. I've only lived in WA for just over a year now, being a transplanted Midwesterner. Wisconsin has some great fly fishing if you know where to go, but it doesn't compare to the PNW. I joined the Air Force and ended up out here, pretty much loving my job and loving where the Good Lord dropped me off.

Last Spring rumors started around my unit that in the summer of '09 there'd be a trip to Alaska. Alaska had been a dream of mine since reading Jack London as a kid. I decided I had to go, I'd do anything. Well, being the new guy, that meant a lot of hard work to show that I'd be worth my salt to take out on the road with aircraft. I finished up all the training I could, spent some long hours at work and even *gulp* cut into weekend fishing time. Well, the powers that be decided I was ready to go. Needless to say I was pretty excited.

I saved money and started tying the craziest articulated marabou patterns I could dream up. I bought a two-hander from the classifieds section here (Thanks again John!). I practiced spey casts in the Spoke every chance I got, I must have looked goofy and sometimes ended up pretty frustrated. All along, I kept wondering, are there even going to be salmon running up there? I read every bit of info I could find about fishing the interior. Finally, that day in late July came and I walked off the flightline in Eielson AFB, AK, with more gear than anyone else on the trip. I was there to catch fish and chew bubble gum, and I was all out of bubble gum.

It was awesome. I spent all of the first day working on the jets, and headed to Fairbanks to buy my license. 70 some dollars later, I was ready to go. I couldn't wait for the weekend. On Friday, we headed out to the Chena river. My friends had been skeptical of my fly kit thus far, and felt certain their spinning set ups were going to show me the err of my ways. When we stepped out of the van, the first thing in sight was a King boiling out of the bend in the river. Wow. I strung up my rod and tied on. Cast. Mend. Swing. Step. Just like I've always read about here. Three hours in, salmon everywhere, but no tugs. Even the gear fisherman working spin 'n glows weren't nailing them.

It's funny how it happens - if you're a beginner like me, it's better if you don't know what's happening. That way you're not likely to get excited and screw it up by pulling your fly right out of your quarry's mouth. I finished a drift and swung my rod towards the bank to begin another circle spey and the line hissed through the water like grease in a bacon pan. I was mystified by the line sucking power of a fish that spent it's life growing up in the salt. I ran up and down the banks, trying to keep him turned against the current and keep some line on my reel. Finally, when he tired, I stepped into the river and grabbed the base of that broad tail, lifted him up so my buddy could slide the hook out of his mouth and snap a quick picture. I slipped him back in the river and with a single motion, he was gone. It had a powerful effect on me. Now all I can think about is catching more fish like that (can't wait to head to the GR later this year when I'm back).

As a sidenote, a day later at the Salcha river, that poor Fetha Styx might have met it's end. I was pulling off my waders next to the van while my friend Ryan put away the rods. He was pretty hot to get back (free beer, and in his defense, I was looking to get back too), and my rod was leaning against the back door of the van. I watched him close the door and saw the crunch. Ouch. I now have a five piece rod instead of a four piece, but maybe when I get home I'll look into getting that top piece replaced. Tight lines everybody!


Piscatorial Engineer
My older son and I took off and drove to the Methow together. Stayed in the same motel room, fished together, both caught fish. Had a great time...doesn't get much better.


Proud to Be Alaskan
Well there are too many here's story cross posted from my blog about one of my favorite skunkings ever...

I went fishing today, with a woman. Yea I’m a loser, yea I might think there are times that fishing is better than sex, and yea I want to find a woman who feels the same way. I haven’t talked to this one about it yet, if I had to venture a guess I’d say she would feel the differently, but then again she’s never caught a 15 pound steelhead or had a 25 inch rainbow take a dry fly. Here’s to hoping today might have helped change that. She’s stoked on the romance of fishing, like the process, she talks about some guide in Mona Lake that her family did a trip with who talked for a day without letting anyone touch the rods, that’s probably the best way to break in new folks, teach them some stuff. Of course I’ve guided folks who have gone to classes (by Orvis) and wow, they had a hard time believing that you could get away with 3x with a size 14 fly and a size 8 fly. But anyway, we had a good day, saw an eagle catch a salmon (I’ve never seen that before!) saw a bunch of really old cohos, I even saw one epically large cutty. I’m going back tomorrow with the tube. The fishing consisted of practice casting with my trout rod, of course I didn’t expect to see a bunch of salmon so I didn’t bring anything for them, its November for gods sake. She did ok for her 4th day out, fishing in the wind on lakes without backcast space is really hard. We mostly just hung out and talked or I watched her cast, she apologized for not letting me fish (her rod, line and reel were probably older than me, and that made casting tough) but really I’ve caught enough fish, I’d rather just watch someone learning and remember what it was like when I was learning. The days in the t shirt in the little rubber raft, looking for risers, casting anything that had red on it (it had to have red), the day I realized how to double haul (nobody told me I just figured it out like a bird learning to fly), biking to the little culvert and finding wild rainbows that would eat anything. I loved those days, the thing I like about this woman is I see that in her, I see the joy that comes with trying to learn this amazing skill that becomes an art, and becomes a way of life. I can go anywhere in the world with a fly rod and have something to do. I’m not sure if she saw the fire in my eyes, the passion for the rivers and the fish, I’m not sure if I have that passion anymore, maybe I’ve lost it, but going fishing with her today helped me want to be like that, like a child again. Next time I see her, I’ll have to thank her for the fire, I hope she brings out the best in me, someone like that is worth a lot. No matter what happens, today was a good day and I’ll hopefully never forget it.