An Unexpected Perfect Day – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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An Unexpected Perfect Day

As a member of the fly-fishing industry you’d think that I get to fish everyday. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a job, just like any other with deadlines, and responsibilities, and of course a schedule. And that schedule means that shop rats and guides alike must make the most of their fishing opportunities when they appear. So, yesterday when the weatherman was wrong in my favor for once, I headed to the river to see if there were any Mother’s Day Caddis hanging on through the cold spell.

Saturday was a very nice day, and the caddis exploded. Then, of course, it got nasty on Sunday and the caddis hatch halted, and those that had hatched hunkered down and the fish developed a nasty case of “lock-jaw” (I should know I was out there guiding). So, when Monday rolled around and it turned out that 70% chance of rain and 20+mph winds really translates to mostly overcast, no-rain and single digit wind, I dropped everything, grabbed the Orvis 4-weight and some dries and headed to the river. The fish did not disappoint.

It was a little busy for a Monday (sometimes you wonder if anyone in Bozeman is employed), but every spot I checked had fish rising. The bugs weren’t that thick. It didn’t seem like the caddis were hatching, but the ones that had already hatched were moving. As it turned out, the Baeits were a lot thicker than the caddis and most of the trout were keyed into them. However, they would still eat a caddis imitation after a few passes. A couple hours passed and the fishing was nice and steady. Then I heard the unmistakable sound out a large fish eating an early season dry. It’s an odd sound to describe. It’s not as flashy as the summertime rises, you can almost hear the fish gulp as its top lip comes out of the water and descends on the natural. I reeled in and sat down to watch. It didn’t take long before I hear the fish rise again. This time I saw him in a beautiful deep seam tucked right up on the bank. A classic dry fly spot. Second cast he eat, and the flight was on. There’s seductive trill to fighting big healthy fish on light rods and light tippet. That feeling that you’re slightly out-gunned. Turned out to be a pristine brown trout specimen, about 19 inches long, but heavy.

After releasing that fish, I continued to fish for a few more hours, but didn’t feel the need to cast to every fish that rose. I’d cast to some and leave others alone. It was almost like that fish had soothed my soul. A wonderful feeling of contentment and peace. It’s not that it was biggest fish I’ve taken during the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch, but it may be the most memorable. Just the improbably perfect circumstances that lined up to make it all come together. The weather that cooperated, the impromptu fishing opportunity, the bugs that still moved despite the changing conditions and the fish that eat a well present fly. Simply perfect.