Every guide has a moment each season that means more than other trips. For me that moment came on a trip in early October with a couple of repeat clients that I had taken out the year before. The year before we had targeted trout and salmon moving out of a lake into a river on their way to the spawning grounds. We didn’t manage to land our target species and that had lingered in my mind when we talked about another trip this year. Even though they had a great time the year before I was even more determined to make Charlie’s dream come true to land his first salmon on the fly.
One of my mantras as a guide has always been that you can’t control the fishing, but you sure can control the experience. That is why I always prepare a fresh lunch for my clients and I do everything I can to ensure that their experience is top notch. Even with that as a guide we are hired to get our clients onto their target species and anything less will be considered a failure in our minds. The year before we went out in mid September and the spawning runs hadn’t really picked up. We only managed a couple smallmouth bass and a lake chub during our day on the river. That stayed with me and I vowed to make sure that we made that a past memory.
When the conversation came up this spring about another trip I encouraged them to come later in the month or even into October to make sure that there would be more fish and they would have a better chance to land their target species. We also scheduled two days so that we could make a change if we needed to. It was the last day of September when I arrived at my campsite to set up for the next couple days and the weather was absolutely beautiful. I knew that was going to be short lived as the next two days were going to be cold, rainy and raw. I enjoyed it immensely as I prepared a beef stew for the next day. There is nothing better than cooking outside in the fresh air with no one in sight for miles.
The next day was blustery and rainy, but our spirits were high as we made our way into the river. Again my Minnkota Terrova trolling motor with spot lock made the huge difference in how I guide and on these two days it was invaluable. I had lost an anchor in the rocks the year before and with my trolling motor I never had to worry about that possibility again. I positioned my boat at the tail of the pool and we were there for less than 30 minutes before Charlie came tight onto a fish. When I saw the fish roll I knew it was a salmon and my heart beat skipped a few beats. It was a solid hook set and we had no issue getting the fish into the net. The feelings that went through my head at that moment was pure elation. I think I was more excited for Charlie as this was something that he had looked forward to and had wanted to happen on the fly. Nothing better than getting your goal just how you wanted to do so.
Not everything went as planned though. On the second day Charlie hooked into a really nice brook trout and when I saw it I said excitedly that it was a nice trout. Chris started to video tape the fight due to what I said. I also saw that it was barely hooked so we needed to proceed carefully. When I thought the fish was ready I tried to net him and at the last second the fish moved and my net hit his bottom jaw and I came up with the streamer instead of a fish. According to Chris my reaction was priceless. I still play the video she sent me and get a good chuckle out of it.
These two days were a blast with Chris and Charlie as they really enjoyed just being out in nature while taking in all of the sights and scenery. It really brings everything into perspective to have good clients spend a couple days with you on the water. To have Charlie land some nice salmon the way he wanted to was redemption enough for me.