Bighorn Excursion (day 3)
Wednesday we hooked up with our guide, Ryan, again. The weather people predicted sunny and clear skies for once so we were happy to be back on the water. As we drifted down the Big Horn it was obvious the good forecast brought out many boats and shoreline fishermen. Dave fished sitting down on the backseat while I fished from the front as before.
The morning drift started slow. I learned a lot since Monday about indicator fishing with long leaders. I felt after Monday and fishing alone Tuesday I was more confident and was ready to try to keep up with Dave. I hooked up with the first fish while slowly drifting and mentioned to Dave he’ll have some real competition today. It wasn’t long after that that I should have kept my trap shut, even jokingly. Even though the morning was slow going he produced more trout than I did. Ryan searched for good areas to wade fish but because of the nice weather the places he wanted to stop were taken. We pushed on passed 3 mile where we hoped down river wasn’t as crowded.
Most of the wade fishing areas Dave had me beat near 3 to one. In some of those areas the guide would switch us up if Dave was catching a few trout and I wasn’t. Then Dave would end up catching fish in the area I just vacated because I thought there were no trout around. It was frustrating when he does that but fun as we joked throughout the day.
Wading off one islands Dave was hooking up on the point. I couldn’t buy a bite along a gravel bar just out from the bank. I started to let my offering slide down into a big pool caused by a back eddy from the gravel bar. The pool circled in varied currents as I watched my indicator float above. My indicator twitched just enough and I lifted the rod to set the hook. The fish held frozen for a second before I gave a hefty tug and he took off towards the head of the pool. The Scott G2 leaned towards the fish and flexed into the middle of the shaft as I held the rod steady and let the fish fight the rod. It circled when it couldn’t go any further up the bank and swam right towards me. I backed up and wound line in as fast as I could into the mid arbor while keeping tension on the fish by holding my rod up high. He passed me and I got a good look at the long brown. By now the guide seen the action, grabbed the net and headed downriver onto the sand bar below that separated the slower pool and faster run. I guided the fish to the gravel bar and Ryan netted the fine brown before it reached the faster choppy water.
The second hook up, within a few casts, had the fish headshaking a few times before he started to run. It didn’t take too long before he unhooked himself. I had landed one trout after that and lost two others. I was getting frustrated as all the lost trout felt hefty. I finally got into a good tussle in the same pool. He used every bit of the back eddy struggling and trying to spit the hook. He swam towards the faster gravel tail out as I tried my best to keep him from the faster shallow current. When he reached the shallow choppy water he turned broadside and let the current force him with the flow. I had to let line out but the strength of the current and fighting fish was too much. My rod straightened and the line went limp as I watched the big rainbow right himself and disappeared under the glare and sunshine. I hooked up a few more times only landing two smaller ones in the 15” range. Later I found out it wasn’t the hooks, it had to be me.
The river has plenty of nicknames for the holes or passages along its course. Some names are comical or given names for good reason. The meat hole or breakfast hole is the first good trout hold down from the first boat ramp below the after bay. There’s the drive in, a row of rusted cars that line the right bank-side. On the left of the island is the duck blind obviously a good place to sit for ducks among the brushy island shoreline. One such hole some guides call it the playpen while others call it the ’last chance’ hole. It’s the last good trout area before the 13 mile boat ramp. This is where the rare phenomenon happened that day to us.
the 'drive in'
Ryan drifted the boat down through the narrow channel between the island and left bank because there were plenty of boats on the wider calmer section of the last chance hole. He slowed the boat down and told us to get ready and cast off the right side. We hauled a good cast outward and Ryan kept the boat drifting with the current flow of our indicators. Mine went under with a hard surge and I yanked up to set the hook attached to the 12 foot leader/tippet. It almost felt like I had fouled hooked a decent sized fish until what I caught came to the surface. I watched as one fish followed the lead fish in a fighting running surge.
“There’s another fish chasing my fish” I said dumbfounded.
“That’s a double” the guide said and added “A true double!”
That’s when I realized I caught trout on both of my flies at the same time. I stood and let the two battle it out not wanting to separate the two 15”rs. We watched as they time and again sub surfaced like two dolphins in a show porpoising in synchronized fashion. I got the two to the anchored boat as Ryan tried to scoop both of them up in the net. The bottom brown trout must have hit the brim of the net and fell off as the rainbow flopped inside. Surprise, surprise, my first true double!!
After releasing the rainbow and picking up anchor we continued on with the same drift as we talked about what just occurred. I watched as Dave’s indicator twitched downward and watched him lift the rod and set the hook. It took a little longer for the fish to surface when we discovered the same phenomenon had happened again! Yes, Dave had himself a true double. Two rainbows in the 11” to 13” range were hooked on his two nymphs. Dave was able to get both fish along side and Ryan was able to net both. A quick picture followed before the bottom trout came loose.
We not only witnessed one but two true doubles on the same drift back to back! How awesome, what are the odds? Ryan turned the boat around and we did the drift two more times only hooking up once more. We considered this our pre-birthday present as our birthdays are on the same day.