Sure, taking my phone out of its waterproof case was probably not the best idea, but I was hoping to get a couple of shots on the river and of the Clutch 6wt that I was trying out. After all, I am pretty sure footed, and I have never fallen in a river before, nor have I dropped my phone in the water while taking pictures of the scenery, or the river. Maybe, over thinking the situation was my biggest mistake.
As the holiday weekend approached, the itch to get on some fly water really started to hit me hard. Even if I could get up on the river for a day, it would pacify some of the desires that swirl around in my head. I also couldn’t stand the idea that I would go a whole year without casting a line.
I knew that the hex hatch was fading, but the river reports were still indicating that big browns were feeding many nights. I decided to make the gamble and hit some dark water for one evening. I headed up mid day in hopes of practicing my casting while there was still daylight. Picking one of my favorite spots along the South Branch of the AuSable, which is closest to home, I threw on some waders and headed down the path to the water.
I just love having a stretch of river all to myself. There may not have been a fish feeding within 100 yards of me, but I really could care less. I just like to stand in the cool calm with only occasional sound of waster rolling off the end of a falen log, or the distant tapping of downy woodpecker.
I had stopped to say hi to a friend of mine who was up for the weekend, and as I was leaving he gave me one of his prototype flyrods to test out. I used my reel and line, and I can honestly say that it out performed my standard rod in every way. I may not be the most distinguished caster on the river, but the difference was noticeable.
After fishing for a while and only being able to trick a few small brookies to my fly, I figured I would get a few pictures before moving on with my day. For the past couple years, I have used a Pelican case to keep my phone safe and dry while I fish. When I put my iPhone 5 in it, it barely fit, leaving no room for my finger to get past it to pull it out. I headed to shore to grab a stick to use as a prying agent. It worked perfectly, and I was able to get a shot of the river to post on instagram. Hoping to get a couple of shots of the Clutch flyrod on the water, and slipped my phone into the vest pocket to make the quick trip back to the shore. Sure enough, my foot caught on a rock, and down I went face first in to the water. My only though as I went down was the phone, and as fast as I fell, my hand grabbed the phone and threw it to shore. After that, it took a few seconds of my waders filling up before I was able to compose enough thought to stand up and get out of the water. The phone stills works, and for that I am lucky. Feeling like an idiot, I sloshed my way back to the truck to dump out the waders and put on some dry clothes.
Having wet clothes and water logged waders was not in my plan for the day, as my real reason for heading up was to fish the evening hex hatch. Putting the rest of my afternoon plans on hold, I headed back to my friends cabin with my tail tucked between my legs only to have to recant the story and beg for a place to dry out for the rest of the day.
By the time we finished dinner, my clothes had mostly dried out, and it was time to head out to some familiar waters along the Manistee for the evening. We met up with a few others, and all of us were ready to hunt the elusive monster brown trout that you generally don’t find during the day. The Hex hatch had mostly come and gone, but a few were still dropping on the water, along with some Iso’s and a few Sulfers.
Smaller fish began to feed almost immediately after the sun hid behind the trees. Knowing that the bigger fish tend to wait their turn, we too waited patiently along the river bank for the light to clear the sky. As darkness set in, we began hearing a few larger slurps along far edges of the river. The Hex weren’t jumping off the water like we had hoped, but there was enough action to spark the apetite of several fish in our area. After casting to a few smaller fish with no luck of a take, something hit the surface with a ferocious smack along the far shore. I knew this would be a fish worth pursuing. By this time, the river was only reflecting the faint light of the now starry sky, and I was unable to see the fish feeding infront of me. As I casted blindly in to the darkness, the fish made attempts at my offering several times with no connection. On the 5th or 6th cast, I felt the line pull away, and I set the hook. Game on!
This was my first fish taken at night, and I was being extra careful not to lose him. I let him play the drag for a while, and slowly worked him toward my net. I could tell the fish wasn’t an absolute monster, but it had some size, and was putting up a pretty good fight. I turned my headlamp on just as the tip of my line hit the end of my flyrod. I worked the fish up stream of me so that he could drift back in to the net. As his tail hit the net, I tried to scoop him up, but he wasn’t fitting into the net. I had to have the other guys come over to help land the fish. It was a beautiful brown, and we worked to get him back to the water as quickly as posible. I would like to show you a picture of it, but not wanting to make the same mistake twice, left my phone in the truck. Turns out, so did everyone else.
Chalk this one up as a fish tail. I was able to take the camera out a get some more pictures along the river before I headed home the next morning.