October 3rd, 2005

Fish-In '05
By James Castwell

Where to start; no idea. Too many things went on; head still buzzin' with pictures, faces, places, flies, stuff that went on. Overload. But damn; it sure was fun. Thank you so much to all who joined. It was the last 'official' FI there, (the regional for next year is already on the books) and what a way to end a run of great times and even better friends.

We got there Monday evening exhausted from working long hours here to get things ahead so we could get away and nine hours pounding the road. Excited though, we had watched rises on the stream for the last hour we drove along it. Windshield and grill took a pounding from 'October Caddis.' The windows at our cabin gave a fine view from both sides of the bugs. The hatch was on.

Tuesday dawned beautiful. Bright day, prospects for a warm day, even most of the week looked that way. We had no idea. We were not in any hurry and took the day off, sort of. Met with folks, played with the Casting Analyzer, chilled out mostly. It seemed that the fish were not rising like we had seen coming up the evening before, but we were not overly concerned.

"BANG-BANG-BANG!" (My cabin door, 9 am Wednesday)

We had planned to fish a section rather far up on one of the two rivers which joined right at our camp, actually the Lochsa, about thirty miles upstream. But, that was not to be. The banging was Benjo (Ben Hart) a guide from Missoula, Montana. We had not met him before and were pleased he had driven the distance to meet up with the gang. We were even more pleased when jabbing with his thumb he indicated that the raft on the trailer behind his big crew-cab truck was to take the two of us on a float trip on the Clearwater River.

Talk about "Make my day!" Boy, did it. Within an hour we were packed and geared up and ready to spot the truck nine miles down river. Well before noon we had put in at our camp site and were giddily bobbing along down one of Americas 'Wild and Scenic' Rivers. Who could ask for anything more. Me.

Fish. Something was not going as anticipated. The river was gorgeous. The weather magnificent. The guide well experienced. One thing was off. The fishing sucked. On the trip I did have a brief acquaintance with three 'something or others' which did not fasten themselves well enough to my fly for me to get to know them any better. Obviously young and inexperienced fishes of unknown linage. Not that they got off, they never hooked themselves. Fish that untalented I do not bother with or count. One other was successful and did manage to impale a borrowed fly neatly in the corner (where it should always be) of his jaw and swim a somewhat meandering and devious route to Ben's landing net. With Ben's talent as a guide and my intimidating presence the fish had no chance whatever.

Nine miles of river and one fish. Big deal. What was wrong. We were to find out later in the week. The insects were not in evidence. Oh, a few size 16 PMD's, a few caddis (smaller than the 'big-uns') and no fish rising to anything. It was like the fish were gone. And the bugs too. Later Ron Eagle Elk heard from a Fish and Game guy that the fish had all run up river during the hot weather in the fall and had not come back down yet. Great! Not only that, the warm water had triggered the 'October Caddis' a bit early. Great for the bugs, they had hatched and laid their eggs when the trout were cooling themselves upstream. I figure the fish went without one section of normally consumed food. Hope all goes well. The Rainbow I got seemed in perfect condition by the way.

During the week the guys who did go way up either of the rivers did rather well. Mostly ten fish a day or better. Often it would require a hike of a mile or two, other times none at all. Like any fishery, it takes the right fly at the right place and time to make the magic happen. Speaking of that, Ron's wife Vicki was the 'hot rod' for the week although no one actually keeps a record of the fish caught, it was the general agreement that she had landed the most and was awarded the prize of a full set of prints donated by the fine rod maker Ron Kussee.

They say you are never too old to learn and Benjo was asking a bit about the double-haul and the Ladyfisher was happy to answer. The result was a 'new and improved' double-haul. He said he may need to switch to a heavier backing. It seems, "the twenty pound hurts my fingers." Here are a couple of him and Deanna.

Now let's spend a little time on that 'Casting Analyzer.' It works. Everyone who went through it agreed. Even those who were at first skeptical. I bring it up again as I am still solidly behind it's value to any caster. I will stress again though, it does not show how bad you are. It shows how good you are. It compares your cast to the Sage Expert in both graph and text. He is a real person, not a cyber-caster who is un-matchable. I encourage you to find a way to utilize it. You may find that some elements of your cast are as good as they can get. This happens often. You can 'beat' the expert. And some distinct parts of your cast might benefit from some degree of attention if you want to. Below is Ron Eagle Elk going through and then seeing the results.

Here are a few of the guys who used it during the week. From top to bottom; Denny Conrad, Les Young, Mark Killam, Steve Zweber, and Terry Taterus.

Oh, and a shot of some wild turkeys that are seemingly everywhere in the area.

~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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