For too long, my buddy Robin and I have been stuck with an unforgivable skunk. We felt cursed because, outside of stocker ponds and irrigation canals, we couldn't catch fish together. We recently dedicated some time to shaking the sickness, and I'm stoked that we did.
Robin is one of my best friends. We've had some excellent times together -- traveling around, crushing beers, filming an MTV show -- and our bond is strong. He picked up fly fishing during the pandemic and made it his mission to learn the ropes. In the short time he's been behind the fly, he developed a wicked cast and some serious energy to get on some fins. All of this became evident through Instagram videos though, because he would catch all of his fish outside of my presence. Fortunately, our unwavering desire to land some lunkers together came to fruition on a recent outing.
I gave Robin a shout about a fishing weekend a month or so back, and we settled on a date to pursue some fall streamer takes. We planned to wade my go-to section to see what was turning an eye our way. We had low expectations given our track record, but remained optimistic. Robin made the trek up to our place the night before, and we discussed flies and strategies over beer and brats while anticipating at least something to work in our favor. We rigged up some big rods for big flies and tied on some slumpbusters and a new single-hook Goldy-esque streamer I've been working on. We retired after probably one-too-many beers in hopes that the next day would be productive.
The next day, we geared up after breakfast and made the arduous ten-minute journey to my favorite spot. I've been fishing this stretch for a while with hit/miss success. Some days, the fish were ready to box at any fly they saw. Other days, I could hear them laughing at my attempts to fool one into an eat. I was hoping the former would be the case as we parked the car and suited up.
We made our way to the top of the run and began throwing our bugs at a back pocket behind a rock. After a couple of casts with no takes, I relived moments of talking about the fish we WOULD catch if only they'd LET US. I ushered us along the banks until we snagged a spot under a bridge. I hadn't pulled a fish out of that spot yet, but figured it would be worth fishing everything we could in order to put some slime in the net. After a couple of slow casts in and around the pocket, I finally heard the words I was hoping for.
I turned back and Robin was indeed on a good bend before his rod snapped straight and we both sighed -- the fish jumped ship. Undeterred, Robin put the fly back at the top of the run and worked that water until another fish decided to ask about his vehicle's extended warranty.
Fish on, for real this time.
Robin set the hook like a surgeon and made sure it stayed. After a playful fight, Robin had his first fish in the basket.
We reveled in the colors of the brown trout that met his net. We cheered the success and snapped some quick photos before returning the fish to his home. Given the award-winning eat at this spot, my confidence shot up as I recommended that we scope more water.
The next spot allowed for more casting room as Robin and I waded to the middle of the river to pound the banks. Within a handful of casts, I was hooked up on my first fish of the day. Robin came in with the net assist and in a span of seconds, the fish was unhooked, photographed, and returned to the water.
With both of us on the board, we gained some collective energy to keep going. We picked apart banks and slow pools with some great success. My next fish turned out to be my biggest on this river, and Robin had a blast ripping meat through the riffle and producing some explosive follows. One fish in particular charged Robin's streamer like it owed him money -- the fish didn't stick, but we both took a moment after the attempted take to question if we were fishing for trout or sharks.
After a solid couple of hours working our way downstream, we turned back to fish some spots back to the car. We were getting low on energy after tons of feisty takes and voracious eats, but wanted to end the day on a high note. We made our way back to our productive spot as the sun settled behind the trees and shot our last casts at the bank. Robin bucketed two fish on his first two casts, the latter fish being one of those special rust-colored browns. If that's not a high note worthy of capping off the day, I don't know what is.
There's no better feeling than fishing alongside your amigo, bucketing fish, wondering why everything is working so well, and earning those cracked beers. It's something Robin and I have wanted for a while and the day finally arrived. It will probably be a while before we can time a meat hatch like that but it doesn't matter. We severed ties with our skunk, and are onto a new chapter. I loved seeing Robin fish well, understand his moves and casts, and reap the rewards.
If you're lucky enough to get out for some fall streamer bites, there is no better time than now. Bring a friend, or don't, and enjoy the water before it locks up.
Fish on, my friends.