Was itching to get out on the water and wanted a quick trip. Really wanted to hit some small water but time was a factor as we had company coming in the morning. Decided on the south part of the Bow River. Packed up the waders, fly box and various bits of gear and headed out. Walking down the hill to the water I could see a couple of guys fishing the stretch I was thinking about. No problem, a good stretch of the legs would put me into a few deep runs where I had pinched big fish before.
I started nymphing with a couple of small stones and a prince. Not much action for the first hour. Changed up on the next run to a brace of wet flies and was rewarded with two small rainbows in a row about 14 to 16 inches in fairly fast riffles. Working my way downstream I was flanked on the upper bank by a couple of coyotes that paced me slowly and kept appearing every half hour or so. The next stretch was long and smooth but deep. Usually a good bet in the evening for dry fly but it is winter and you never know. With the season change and the cold, fish are moving into their wintering holes. There was a solid Chinook blowing so It could men some dry fly action.
There where a couple of small trout bulging just out of reach. Isn’t that the way, they always seem a bit out of reach. I could just make out a mini Blue Wing Olive hatch way out there on the water. They moved and changed in a small cloud, so I changed up to a small deer hair Serendipity emerger. The water was walking speed so it was nice fishing, with long smooth presentations. Then I spotted the tailfin budge and almost break water. Stood for a bit without casting and was rewarded with a very impressive tail that flicked drops.
Didn’t see another budge but on intuition I made a soft cast with the rod a few feet above the spot figuring that the fish would move forward after breaking the film. Felt a soft nudge then nothing. Decided to wait and could just make out another light budge about four feet above where I felt the take. It was so subtle I wasn’t sure I saw it. It was getting on toward evening and the Crows where gathering up into a huge flock. Did you know that a flock of crows is called a murder? I think it was a foreboding of things to come.
Changed up to a small BWO emerger that I tie and waited a bit. The fish had drifted back into its original position but still fed about a foot below the surface. There are times in fishing that a cast feels perfect. Not the clumsy wind blow ones or even those good ones that are a bit high before they come down. I always love the casts that straighten out above the surface then land lightly without seeming to mar the surface film. A bit of soap that I carry makes sure that the leader sinks and it drifts at the right depth. The coyotes where now mousing in the adjoining field.
Nudge again very lightly almost like when you tap the rod softly with a knuckle. Lifted the rod to set the hook and all hell broke loose with a big rainbow smashing into a deep run. Turned the rod toward the bank and felt a solid fish. Then he jumped; I could hear the fly line hissing through the water surface trying to follow the fish into the air. There are certain fish that stand out for me. I don’t know why but I get this snapshot in my mind that often recurs with certain fish. This one is there burned into my collection of memorable times. The Trout was a really large, one of biggest I have had the honor to fight on the Bow. It seemed to hang in mid air far to long then, we made quick eye contact, then it hit the water with one of those slicing, wild, headshaking, deep runs that get the blood going. I lifted my rod tip up, having lowered it for the leap and as the rod came up to meet the fishes deep run I heard a loud crack that seemed to go right through me. Well I must say I don’t scare easy but that sound really did me in for a couple of seconds and I froze. Man it was loud like the crack of a whip or a small firecracker. At first I didn’t now what had happened.
Glancing at the top of my rod I saw it was now a neat stub. The Rainbow broaching deep and I watched helpless as the top section of the Fly Rod slowly slide down the fly line to disappear into the dark water. So now this 25 plus inch rainbow is really pissed with this total new feel to the line and decided to try to do another high jump. The fish just don’t seem to get the full gravely of the situation. Here I was with an expensive rod broken, and that’s enough to take in for me at the moment but this fish took to the air again. Here I stand on the Bank of the Bow the fish high in the air again, the line bowed between me and the fish, hanging in the middle as the line sliced out of the water on both sides till it hit the broken tip that had just broached surface.
Now there are times in life where action isn’t possible but life seems to take It’s own path not asking you for a second what you think, or how it should play out. This was one of them, the fish was in the air, and the broken rod tips tension released its hold on the water surface and twanged up into the air like rock star banging out a chord. The Rainbow trout threw the hook and out of balance smacked down in a crazy body flop throwing up an ungraceful splash of water and instantly disappearing from sight. My focus was now on the rod tip. It was fascinating, released of its line it expelled its earthly energy in one last graceful summersault high into the air and seem to hang for a second in the gathering dusk and then it plunged down and hit the water tip first in a neat dive into about thirty feet of deep water.
Perhaps sometimes after the flood next year it will be deposited on shore and some fellow angler will puzzle at the broken section with tip attached. I stared out over the water in the gathering dusk, the decision having been made for me about further fishing, I headed back to the parking area with my stub of a rod. In the last Sixty years of fishing this was the only time I ever had a fly rod break on a fish. Certainly it was an odd feeling. Walking back to the truck the coyotes started their mournful howl behind me. Imagining it was for my broken rod I smiled and hiked up to the truck.