Colton Schofield arrived at the starting point of the Currier Marathon at 6:10 a.m. which helped motivate me to get up that morning. I arrived late the previous night, and didn’t get a good night’s rest because of how cold it got. I always forget when I head over to Henry’s Fork I need to bring some winter gear for the late nights and early mornings. It was still cold out, but I warmed up quickly after an exciting conversation with Colton and White Fish Ed. Before I knew it, Jeff and Granny (Jeff’s wife) arrived along with former Simms representative, John Yusko, and Currier’s buddy, Tim Brune. Together we all geared up after coffee and a light breakfast.
The crispy morning suggested I take a hoodie, and because I wasn’t prepared, Colten brought me an extra one. With all of our gear on we walked over to Jeff as he was finishing a conversation with Tim Brune, stating that something this morning reminded him of being in India. I looked over to Colton who had also heard Jeff’s comment.
“Like any of us know what it’s like to be in India.” I said. Colton just smiled at my comment as I continued, “I’m Jeff Currier, and there is something about the breeze in the air, on this fine crisp morning, that reminds me of India.” I said in a snobbish voice. Colton just smiled and said, “Right?” just as Jeff came around to see us off.
Colton led the way as we followed the path out along the Ranch. As we walked I was reminded of how tricky the water looks on the Henry’s Fork: slow flowing water with breaks that swirl can easily look like you just missed a rising fish. We stopped every so often to do a double-take, just in case it was actually a fish rising, but most of the time it was just the current playing tricks on us.
“Whoa!” I said coming to a quick stop.
“Did you see a rise?” Colten asked, stopping fast.
“No, check it out!” I said, pointing down at the purple flowers. Sure enough, a large, living pico spider was crawling around on the flowers. I took out my camera and snapped a picture of the emerald beetle poking about.
“You know…” Colton said, “I have caught a few fish with the pico spider on the Henry’s Fork, but I usually cut the legs a little shorter.”
A mile of walking goes by quickly when fish are on your mind. Colton suggested we try a section he had seen fish in the past, and quietly we approached the spot. Off in the distance, Granny and Jeff were walking to a spot to stakeout as well; they ended up sitting in the tall grass not far downstream from us.
Brown drakes, flave spinners, caddis, midges, and rusty spinners were all on the water. It wasn’t long before the glorious sound of a rising fish caught our attention. It was the first rise we had seen all morning, and Colton let me have the first cast. With no luck, I backed off to let him have a go at the rising fish.
Together we threw fly after fly at these rising fish, with no luck.
“What the hell could they be taking?” I asked, knowing neither of us had the answer. We ended up leaving the fish to carry on downstream. Off in the distance Jeff had hooked into a fish, but lost it in the battle. We walked by him and Granny as we passed on the trail above.
The day started heating up, and we had removed our warm gear a mile or so back. When we did so, I noticed that I had forgotten my water, and Colton had forgotten his Powerbars. We were too far to turn back now, so we pressed on.
For a long while we hadn’t seen a single fish rise, and the temperature was getting significantly warmer. Colton shared his water with me, and I happened to have extra Powerbars to offer him.
The old railroad ranch bridge marks 1/4 of the way through the Currier Marathon, and with no fish rising, we decided to cast our lines in the turbulent waters below the bridge.
Despite not having caught a fish here, it was nice to get into the water and cool off a bit. In the distance we could see the tall pine trees that created shade for a nice place to stop and rest, and as we made our way over, Colton spotted a small duckling. The little guy was paddling away. I quickly pulled out my camera, and got close to take a picture. Just as I got close enough to snap a picture, the duckling dove, leaving me with this shot of its butt.
We finally made it to the welcoming shade. The temperature was nearing 80 degrees, and taking some time to rest was long over due.
No more than a few minutes into our rest, Colton snuggled up to his pack and dozed off. I still don’t understand how people can nap during the day, but there he was, long gone. The thought of kicking him came to mind, just so I had someone to talk to, but I decided that I better not.
Though I had forgotten my water bottle, I was sure to not forget my M&M’s. The mosquitos were buzzing in the shade, so I pulled my Buff down just enough to eat individual M&Ms.
After we rested, we geared back up and headed off, but first I snapped a picture of Colton, who, with his Buff on, still looked half asleep.
At last, the Osborn Bridge was in sight. To reach it meant we were halfway through the marathon, and we would turn around and walk back. As we got nearer and nearer, both Colton and I came to the realization that we were nearly halfway done, and had yet to catch a fish.
“I think I just saw a fish rise!” I told Colton, who was looking at a different stretch of river.
“Where?” He said, looking where I was looking. I pointed to a small riffle behind a submerged rock that, every once in a while, would boil to create a ring.
“I think that is just the water.” He replied, after taking a second to check it out.
“No way, I know I saw a fish!” I said, as we both stood and watched a little longer. Sure enough, a mouth came up and sipped something off the surface.
“THERE!” I yelled.
“Yep, I saw it!” Colton replied. Colton had been a sport all day, allowing me to take the lead on the few fish we did see on the trip so far, so this time I let him have first crack at the fish.
We found ourselves in the same situation as before: a steadily rising fish taking nothing we had to offer.
“Look, there’s a yellow sally.” Colton said, pointing at a yellow sally flying by. The red butt on the fly was very distinct as it flew over, and I immediately switched my fly. Colton was currently casting to the fish, but it would have none of it.
“Okay, your turn.” Colton said stepping out of the way. I pulled some line out and made a cast… BOOM! The fish took and I set the hook!
“There you go!” Colton yelled, as the fish jumped out of the water. After walking almost five miles, it was very nice to feel a fish on the line; the wiggle wiggle is something you can’t beat. Colton made his way to the fish and netted it before he took a picture.
It was a nice fish to catch on a dry fly, and I could finally say I didn’t get skunked. I placed the fish underwater and held it until it kicked away.
We looked for more rising fish, but didn’t see any. Determined to catch a fish on a dry fly, Colton switched his fly to a large cicada and started searching with it in the turbulent water. I stayed back and watched as he placed his fly into some nice pocket water, and in a flash a fish came up and slammed it!
“On a dry fly!” I yelled over to him as he brought in his fish and held it up for a picture. If you look closely you can see the cicada in the fish’s mouth.
Colton mentioned that one of the guides he worked with nymphed the turbulent water upstream from Osbourne bridge, and did well in the process. With no rising fish in sight, Colton rigged up his rod to do some high-sticking nymphing, and was into a fish in no time at all.
“It’s a huge white fish!” Colton yelled, as he put the torque on the fish. Hearing it was just a white fish, I stood back and watched Colton as he fought it.
“It won’t stop running!” Colton yelled, as he scrambled to bring in the fish. Twice he had it inches from the net before the fish darted away, nearly escaping each time.
“Do you need help?” I asked casually. After all, it was only a white fish.
“Yeah, I really want to net it!” Colton yelled, “They are not as common here.” Apparently white fish are quite a treat to anglers who come across them on the Henry’s Fork, and the bigger ones are even more rare. Hearing the excitement in Colton’s voice, I dashed over to Colton, who’s fly rod went dead… The fish had slipped away.
By now the Curriers had caught up with us, along with Tim Brune. I started euro nymphing, and at first thought we were going to get heckled by Jeff because, according to him, you shouldn’t nymph the Henry’s Fork. Colton and I were ripping out little rainbows, until Colton set the hook on another nice fish!
“It’s a rainbow!” Colton confirmed, and it was hot! The fish fought hard, and Tim Brune pulled his net out to help Colton land the fish.
With his arm stretched as high as possible, Colton brought the head of the fish up and Tim netted it. Currier and I pulled our cameras out, and shot some pictures of Colton, who was all smiles.
We walked the rest of the way to the bridge, and there was a fish rising underneath.
“Go get it!” Currier said to me, as he, Granny, Tim, and Colton watched. The fish was rising aggressively, and it seemed no matter what I threw the fish would take it… WRONG! One by one, Granny, Jeff, and Tim trickled off, leaving me with a fish that was no longer rising… I had screwed it up.
The walk back seemed longer, as we had ran out of water and our food was gone. Thirsty and hungry, Colton and I headed straight back to the cars. It seemed like we were walking forever, stopping every once in a while to fish to a rising trout. It was noticeably the hottest part of the day, and the deer flies were buzzing around our heads, probably attracted to our sweat.
“The Phil Rowley Marathon…” I said to Colton, as we made our way through some tall grass, “… now that would be a marathon!”
“Oh yeah?” Colton asked.
“Yeah! Phil’s marathon would have a few bars and restaurants along the way, and when we made it halfway, there would be a cooler full of beverages and one of those taco trucks waiting.”
“I could go for that.” Colton smiled, as we continued walking. By the time we arrived to the cars it was getting late, and the fish had started rising like crazy.
We had pulled our gear off and watched as other anglers casted to fish. Having little water on the ten mile hike took a toll on my legs; they both cramped up as I rested on the sidelines and drank water to help the pain go away.
At 9:50 p.m. we walked into the Trout Hunter for dinner. Colton and I were starving by this point, and to our surprise, Granny was there!
“Hey Granny, I didn’t expect to see you here this early.” I said, as we both pulled up a chair to the table.
“Well it got hot out there…” She said, “and I told, Jeff I’m getting the hell out of here, when we reached the old railroad bridge. From there I walked over to the highway and back to the cars.”
“Well I don’t blame you. Both Colton and I headed in early; he forgot his Powerbars and I forgot my water…”
“Nooo!” Granny blurted out, her eyed wide with concern. I explained the situation over some appetizers, before Jeff and Tim showed up at 10:30 p.m.
Together, we ordered our dinner and told each other about our day on the river. Jeff, of course, ended up getting into the most fish. He came up with a number like 23 or something…a stretch, even for Jeff Currier.
“Shut the hell up…” Granny said, hitting Jeff on the arm, then looking at me, “He didn’t catch that many!” Jeff just smiled, smugly, looking at Granny and whoever was listening to the conversation.
“What were you using?” I asked, having been snubbed more times that I would like to admit.
“I used the same fly all day. It’s the one I have used the last three times fishing: a mahogany dun.” Jeff said.
Though Jeff had missed the opportunity to rouse us about nymphing on the river, it caught up to us at dinnertime. Thankfully, dinner was being passed around the table, which had killed any conversation because we were all hungry.
Great conversations amongst friends over fantastic food finished off another year of the Currier Marathon. I’m sure I’ll try and make it back next year, and just so you all know, everyone is welcome!