It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 – 1870)
How many fishing stories could start with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”? That was the theme of our fishing trip on the Blackfoot this past weekend.
Yes, we were a bit late getting on the water – it was about 10:30 in the morning, and the boat launch at Corrick’s Riverbend was deserted. Surely the “serious” fishermen were miles down the river by now. Nonetheless, we were rested and happy to be there. Some mid-morning clouds threatened, but we were prepared for rain and a great day of fishing.
Within about fifty yards of our put in, I already had a fish on – a nice one, too. But it got away. So did the next one, in short succession.
Blackfoot River Westslope Cutthroat
As my husband Ron rowed me back upstream into the eddie to try again, I cast into some debris and lost my bottom tippet and fly – a red San Juan worm. We anchored, tied on some new line and another worm, and boom! Caught a nice fat cutthroat. In my vanity, I wanted a photograph, but this fish was having none of it. After flopping in the boat, we thought we’d better just get it back in the river – so overboard the cutt went. Through the splashing and commotion, Ron slipped in the raft, and snap! His hand came down none too softly on the graphite fly rod secured to the side of our boat. The mid-section was cleanly severed. A few expletives later we reached the momentous conclusion that “it is what it is,” hung our heads and resolutely rowed on down the river.
I was fishing a “trash rig” recommended by a local fly shop owner – a bling minnow and a San Juan worm. Surprisingly effective, I was able to land a couple of fish that took the minnow, and several more nice ones on the SJ worm.
About three hours into our trip, I was trying to get a fish on the reel, and snap! again. Not my rod, but the handle on my reel broke off and fell into the boat bottom. Ron snagged it up before it fell out of one of the self-bailer holes, and we thought we’d just screw it back on. But no. It was plastic and there was no screwing involved. I would have to rotate my reel with the palm of my hand if any more fish were to be landed.
Another back eddie and a small cutthroat landed. On down the river, a side cast under a tree – flash! A fish looked at my minnow, but the bling must have scared him. He retreated back into the shade and was the last fish of the day.
Ron on our little Honda 90 shuttle.
Ron rode our shuttle bike, a little yellow Honda 90, back up to Riverbend to get our rig. I stayed with the boat. By this time the clouds had dissipated (without delivering the afore-mentioned, prepared-for rain), and it was a hot, blue bird Montana afternoon. I talked with a couple groups of floaters putting in at Whitaker Bridge for late afternoon excursions and took some group photos for them.
Ron returned with the trailer, some Missoula hippies helped us load the raft, and down the dirt road we went. Then … there was one more clink! as the inside rear view mirror fell off the front windshield and onto the truck seat. Seriously? Really?
It just rounded out the day!
Last cast at Whitaker Bridge on the Blackfoot River.
Tracy Watt, July 16, 2011