I had been texting Phil Rowley like a teenager to gather up as much information about the lake as possible. Phil didn’t disappoint, providing me with Arcanum knowledge only a local would know.
Terry oared to where we could see a few rising fish off in the distance, and the closer we got, the less they rose. We found this to be typical as we engaged the gulping fish. Out of the corner of my eye I made out a disturbance on the surface of the water.
“There, Terry!” I pointed, and with one good stroke of the oars I was within casting distance. I blasted a cast out to where I had seen the disturbance… and nothing. My fly sat motionless on the surface of the glassy water for longer than I would like to admit. Perhaps the fish will turn back around and eat my fly, I thought, but it wasn’t happening.
Terry sat back behind the oars to move the boat to a different location, and I started reeling in my fly. The small wake from my CDC caddis was barely noticeable, but it was exactly what a cruising fish was looking for. WHAM!
“Whoa!” I yelled, setting the hook.
“Did that fish take your fly while you were reeling it in?” Terry asked.
“Yeah!” I said happily, and went to hand Terry my camera. Terry did not take the camera from me, but instead scrambled like a madman for the net.
“Did you see the fish that took your fly?” Terry asked, as he readied the net.
“No. It doesn’t feel that big.” I said. I stood up to get a better view of the fish, but it was not needed.
“It’s bigger than anything you caught on Quake Lake!” Terry said excitedly. Just then the fish sprang out of the water, and I saw the full girth of it.
“Whoa, crap!” I yelled.
“Yeah!” Terry confirmed. The fish was seriously fighting now, pulling and tugging with all of its weight. With quick maneuvers by Terry, and my ability to get the fish’s head up, Terry netted it quickly and got a stunning shot of me and my brown trout.
“Crap!” I yelled, recognizing my malfunction. I quickly tied on another CDC caddis, and was back to searching for a gulping fish. Another fish presented itself, and after it took a natural, I noticed the direction it was swimming and launched a fly in its path. My fly sat untouched, and I thought I hadn’t placed my fly down fast enough. The fish had changed its approach; it came shooting up from under the fly and exploded on it! The sudden eruption from the fish startled me, but not enough to forget what I was doing. I set the hook and brought in the rambunctious fish.
The gulping activity was starting to slow down.
“There are some over there.” Terry said, pointing to a small pocket of water. I oared us over, and Terry made the first cast. It was not surprising that when we got there, the fish stopped rising. Looking out from the back of the boat I saw a rise, so I quickly casted out. Less than a second later, a line came from over my head and a fly also landed near where my fly was.
“Are you poaching water?” I asked.
“I’m getting desperate!” Terry said, smiling.
“And, we’re friends.” He finished saying, while our flies laid a foot or so apart. It wasn’t long after that when the fish decided to take my fly, and I didn’t have the heart to ask Terry to stop and take another picture.
Another light sprinkle turned into a heavy rain which, morphed into marble sized hail.
Heavy thwacking sounds came from the back of my hood as we got dumped on. The electrical storm that was due to rear its ugly face was here, and a close thunder clap encouraged us to row to shore.
The rolling thunder passed us by, and the sun broke through the clouds. We could still hear the thunder, but it was obviously at quite a distance.
“A rainbow…” I told Terry, pointing off in the distance. Thunder echoed from a distance, and Terry started heading towards the boat.
“A rainbow? Hell, that’s a God thing. Let’s get back to fishing.” Terry said, and we both got back into the boat.
Catching for the day was over, but that didn’t stop us from trying. We soon got the hint and headed back to the truck. Once we were there I turned my phone on and had a text message from my grandfather: “Hurry home; we have lobster bisque waiting for you.”
I told Terry what was waiting for us back at Lois’s cabin, and we both scrambled to get the gear put away as fast as possible. The day ended cold on Hebgen Lake, but after some hot lobster bisque, we ended the day with fun, hot-headed political conversation lead by my grandfather.