Editor’s Note: To our surprise, one of our friends wrote the following story about his own outdoor adventure on the Big Hole River with Ron a couple of years back.
Rough Start to an Epic Night of Fishing
By Jeremey Conlan, 06/11/14
The night started a couple of days before, in the lunch room at work. Ron Watt, Chad Heath and I decided to go fishing on the Big Hole. We were going to go right after work, so at 5:30 we set off for some fly fishing and floating.
The evening began with Ron’s first experience with Twisted Tea. Most people who live in Butte know how far it is from Butte to Maiden Rock access on the Big Hole. The drive does not take too long, so when Ron was on his fifth Twisted Tea, I knew it was going to be a good night.
As we pulled up to the Maiden Rock put in, after a long shuttle, and feeling pretty good, we got out to get the raft ready. The moment we stepped out of the truck the mosquitoes were thick, so we were hurrying to get the boat in the river. After a run and gun session, we were ready to push off. Ron climbed in to row and Chad jumped in the back. Ron grabbed the oar to get it in the water and smacked Chad in the back of the head knocking his sun glasses off. I almost pissed my pants I was laughing so hard. After a long laugh we were off, and within 50 yards it was fish on! I had caught the first fish of the night – a vibrant-colored rainbow.
As we floated another 150 yards, Chad and I were mid-cast when Chad’s green drake hook landed in my ring finger. As he went to back cast, I tried to grab the line so my finger wouldn’t get ripped off. Calmly I said, “Look at this Ron,” and he busted out laughing. To the bank we went, all three of us laughing – them more than me. But it was still funny until Ron asked Chad if he pinched the barb. The look on Chad’s face was priceless – let’s just say the barb was not pinched. So we tried to push the hook through, but it was buried in my knuckle. Ron said, “I know how to get it out.”
Hook Removal Technique
As he explained how we were going to remove the hook I thought to myself, “No way that will work.” Chad was all for it because it involved him pulling as hard as he could. This is how it was going to go – Ron was going to push down on the barb in my finger with some hemostats, Chad had 20 lbs. line around the butt end of the hook, and on the count of three Chad was to pull. I was certain that this was a bad idea. After a long drink of Twisted Tea the countdown began. “One, two,” and Chad pulled, no three, just pulled. The hook popped right out, no blood, nothing. It was pretty cool. After another Twisted Tea we were back on the river. *
We floated for about half an hour with not much action with the green drakes. Ron pulled to the side. “It’s time to change the flies out,” he said. He handed Chad and I a fly I have never seen before, and he called it a “purple chubby.” After we tied the PC on we started down the river, and let me tell you it was epic. It was like someone turned the light switch on. We were hooking fish left and right. It was unreal.
We came around a bend and there was a straight stretch in the river. Ron said, “Throw to the bank, just about a foot off.” Chad and I threw to the bank, and at the same time, fish hit both. Ron yelled, “Set!” but we came up with nothing, so we cast back to the bank. Within seconds two hits again, and again nothing. This went on for about five more casts. For about 200 yards we cast, the fish would hit, we would try to set, but nothing! Then quiet. All we heard was, “You two are @#$! killing me.” We had missed every fish in that stretch, and Ron was about to kill us. So we gave him another Twisted Tea and kept going.
We hammered the fish until dusk. As we floated in the twilight, Chad was turned around in the seat with his line behind the boat. In the darkness all you could hear was splash! He yelled, “Fish on!” This was the biggest fish of the night – a big fat brown!
That was the best fishing I have ever experienced. Being on the river with Ron is like playing poker and knowing the other people’s hands. He knows what to fish with and where to be. It’s like watching Picasso paint, a true artist. When I say epic that’s what it was – good friends, great fishing, and Twisted Tea. Could it get any better?!
* Never try this hook removal technique if hook is in the head or face area. Under those circumstances, see a medical professional. Also, it is a good idea to always wear some kind of eye protection when fly fishing!