Fly fishing new rivers always pumps me up, and this time was no different. Tyler Steffens, a good friend and fly fishing enthusiast in Washington, is one of my only buddies from back home who is as much of a nut about fly fishing as I am. And therefore has taken the time to discover new waters that most people would overlook. He had me so fired up about this river he was taking me to that we both agreed we would hit the road at 6am. However, as I pulled up in front of his house at 6am ready for a day of fly fishing, there was no Tyler to be found…
After a few text messages with no response it was time to make a call.
“Yeah…” Tyler said, answering the phone. His tone of voice was that of a person who had just been woken buy the ringing of his phone, yet desperately trying to make it not seem like he had just been woken by the ringing of his phone.
“Dude, I am right outside your house ready to go.” I said.
“YOU’RE HERE?!” Tyler said, almost with a screech.
“Yeah, man, and ready to go.”
“Oh no! Oh, man… I just woke up…”
“You don’t say.”
“Oh, sorry man… Tell you what…” Tyler said, as I heard the sounds of shuffling through the receiver.
“You go get yourself some breakfast, coffee, or whatever, and I’ll be ready when you get back!”
“Alright…and no rush we have all day.” I said before hanging up the phone.
A Venti Cool Lime Refresher is my drink of choice, and on my way back to Tyler’s he called to say he was now ready to go.
“Dude, I am so sorry.” Tyler said, as he threw his stuff in the truck.
“It’s okay, man. Though it would have been nice to sleep in!” I said.
“Yeah…” Tyler said, then looked over at me more seriously…
“You better leave this part out of your blog!” He said.
“I will, bro… don’t worry.” I lied.
We were soon out of the highland-desert and into the rich, thick forest that makes Washington the evergreen state. The smell of pine filled the air, and the clarity of the water had Tyler and I racing to gear up. Once ready we stood on the shoreline looking at the pristine water, and Tyler turned to me, holding up his hand.
“Happy Father’s Day, man!”
“Happy Father’s Day to you too!” And with a high five we started our day.
“This looks like a nice stretch for dry fly fishing.” I said, walking up to a flat stretch of water.
“Let’s hit it!” Tyler said, and unlatched his fly to make a cast.
Tyler was armed with a Redington Butter Stick, which has the delicate soft action to perform some of the most soft presentations if in the right hands. Tyler gave the rod a flick and his line soared in a perfect arch to its destination. The fly landed with a delicate touch that was most worthy of a fish, but nothing came up.
Although Tyler was getting no love, I couldn’t pass up water that looked this good. It took us a while to tear ourselves away from the long flat stretch of water to continue upstream.
“Hey, what is an E-Burg Blue stone?” I asked Tyler as we walked up.
“It’s a blue stone only found in this region of the world, why?” He said.
“My buddy, Pat Britinstine, mentioned we could find then up here.”
“Oh Pat! Yeah he’s a good guy.”
“Well, I’m also looking for one.” I said, which made Tyler laugh.
“Dude, you are probably not going to find one here. I think we are outside of the range where that rock exists.”
“Well, Pat seemed to think they were up on this stretch of water.”
“Good luck, man. Keep your eyes open.”
“I will. And I also told Pat we would catch him a fish. Let’s dedicate the smallest fish to Pat.” I said, walking up to a deep hole next to the bank.
“Sounds good to me.” Tyler said with a laugh.
Tyler held back to give me the first crack at the new piece of water, and on a wayward cast I sent my fly up into a low hanging branch.
“What the hell was that?” Tyler yelled over to me.
I looked over to see he had been watching me.
“Damn, I was hoping you didn’t see that.” I said, tugging on the fly.
“Are you going to break it off?”
“Well, I already fished the hell out of this spot with no love. So screw it!” I said, and walked into the deeper stretch to blow out the hole and save my flies.
“This is the farthest I have ever walked up on this river.” Tyler said, looking around.
“We haven’t caught one fish yet, so I’m thinking we should head to the lower stretch.” He continued.
“I’m good with that.” I said, as we started back downstream.
“What are you throwing?!” Tyler asked, after watching my fly hit the water like a wet bat.
“It’s a Dalai Lama by brother gave me.”
“That thing is huge.”
“Well, I figured they were not coming up for dries or hitting nymphs below… So if there is a fish here maybe they will come out for some meat!”
“Sounds good, brotha!” Tyler said, as we continued downstream.
I hucked my streamer at every undercut with nothing to show for my efforts. Some of the undercuts on the river had to have reached back three to five feet under the bank. They were the deepest undercuts I had ever seen, and they were guarded by thick roots that acted like a thick fence, keeping my fly out of a trout’s radar. I still gunned for those undercuts with my fly slapping down so close to the bank it had to attract something.
A flash caught my eye under the water, and all the weight of a strike was present.
“TYLER!” I yelled, as my fly rod danced with a fish.
“YEAAAAAAAH BUDDY!” Tyler yelled back, running up to me to assist.
“He’s a fighter, Tyler! He’s a fighter!” I said, grinning like a hungry cat.
The fish darted around, but I had it hooked good. After it was tired I held the line and snapped a few underwater shots of the fish with the hopes one would turn out.
“I think you got enough pictures of the fish.” Tyler said.
“You would be surprised. I bet out of those hundred or so shots, only four or five turn out.”
“Yep! The damn things don’t like to stay still, so I get a lot of blurry shots. Still…” I said, reaching for my forceps. “I get my shots all while keeping the fish under water, and…” I said, using my forceps to take the barb-less hook out of the fish’s mouth, “…I never have to touch the fish”.
The once hooked trout took off with a flash back to its home, and Tyler and I continued downstream.
Fishing on the way back to the truck turned up nothing, so we hopped out of the river to drive out of the high country and into the highland-desert.
Grasshoppers hopped away from us, with some flying away as we walked to the river. This got us excited for some top water action, and the river didn’t disappoint. Tyler was into a fish within a few casts and was able to bring it to the net.
“Is it a nice fish?” I asked from a-far.
“Dude, I think we can call this one Pat’s fish.” Tyler said with a laugh.
“Well in that case we better take a picture.” I said, pulling out my camera to snap a shot.
I too was successful with a dry fly, but sadly the only fish willing to rise were the size of Pat’s fish. Tyler started to nymph and hooked into a something big.
“Erik! I may need some help!” I heard Tyler yell upstream to me. His voice was almost drowned out by the river, but it was enough to get my attention.
“You better not lose it when I get there!” I yelled back, and started to wade downstream to Tyler.
Tyler’s Butter Stick looked to be on the edge of snapping in half as he kept pressure on the fish. Just as I got near him, his rod shot straight, lifeless.
“NOOOOOOOO!!!!” Tyler yelled, and ripped the hat from his head and threw it at the ground.
“Damn it, Tyler!” I said, now standing a few feet away.
“Dude, it was such a big fish. It would have been the fish of the day…” He said, still looking at the ground, holding his fly rod that was once full of life.
“I knew you were going to screw it up, and just as I was close enough to help.” I said, as Tyler held out his hand with a gesture suggesting I could shut up any time…
The sting of losing a fish is all too familiar, but the untouched riffle upstream helped Tyler get over it. He was back at it, nymphing with his full flex Butter Stick, which was quite the sight to see. In order for him to make a decent cast with nymphs and an indicator, Tyler had to move his entire body to get the full flex rod to perform the cast needed for a decent drift. Despite the awkward movement, it was paying off. Tyler’s indicator shot under, and he wrenched back to hook into another sizeable fish. This time the fish made its size visible by rocketing out of the water several times, as I stood ready with the net. The fish was now in plain sight and less than an arms-length away when the fly sprang from its mouth just before it was netted.
Tyler didn’t say a word, he just dropped his arms to his side, not believing he had lost another great fish.
“Well, way to lose another one.” I said with a sigh.
“Dude? If you were a little bit faster with the net…”
“Whatever, that fish was way too hot to net. It had to have jumped over five times.”
“I know! It put up quite the fight!” Tyler said, his mood lightening with the memory.
I hooked my net to my back and started to continue my hike upstream when Tyler stopped me.
“What time is it? My phone is dead.” He said.
I pulled my phone out and said, “It’s a quarter to five.”
“OH NO! We have to go, I told my wife I would be back by six!” He said, worried. And on that note, we turned and headed back to the truck. We had easily walked a mile upstream, and there was no way we were going to get back to Moses Lake by 6 pm.
“Didn’t my wife say something to you about 7pm?” Tyler asked.
“Actually, she said 7:30…” I said with a raised eyebrow.
“Well then there’s time to hit that hole really quick.” Tyler said, and started to fish.
Tyler had hooked his last fish of the day, and this time was able to bring it to the net. After that is was definitely time to head back to the truck, so we clipped our flies from our line to keep us from doing more fishing.
With our gear all packed away, we started on our way home. We had burned up a little more time fishing on our “rush” back to the truck. Still, we were going to make it hone before 7:15pm, which was pretty good in my book.
“How much do I owe you for gas?” Tyler asked, pulling out his wallet.
“You know what, my dad took care of gas for us today for Father’s Day.”
“Seriously?! Your dad is awesome!” Tyler said, happily.
“Yeah, he really is…” I said, and we drove back home from a great Father’s Day adventure.