Summer is winding down, and for the more matter-of-fact folks a quick glance at the calendar will tell you that it's already over. The staff has still been out fishing and working, though, and I think I speak for all of us in saying that we're starting to get the steelhead itch now that we've had a few cool nights and the fish are starting to show up.
SAO guide John Miller has been up to his usual tricks on the Delaware, and with some higher flows, and a little bit of color in the water column the fish have been eager to oblige.
It's always tough for me to leave Wyoming, and when the guide season was as good as this past one, it makes it all the more difficult. September out there is by far my favorite month - shorter days, and pretty damn cold nights are a telltale sign that summer is over. Guide and fish alike take notice, and both try to act on it quickly because both the fishing, and the weather, are just too good to last for very long.
I spent my last day out there fishing with my girlfriend; over the past few years we've been dating she's become quite the fly fisherwoman. We fished a special section of stream surrounded by the spectacular red rock walls which the rancher who owns the place calls "the best fence man or God ever made." The fish are plentiful, and they've been known there to pounce on a properly presented dry. As my girlfriend made her first cast, not one, not two, not three, but a half dozen fish took a pass at her hopper as it drifted along an undercut bank. She set the hook on the last one, and looked at me and smiled after it found the bottom of the net. It was looking like it was going to be one of those days you remember for a long time.
The last fish I hooked was the biggest I'd ever seen on this particular stream. As we made our way up into the canyon section of the property, we came across a deep eddy, carved out of the solid rock wall that lined the canyon. On previous occasions I'd seen a big fish in there, but we'd never managed to hook him. My first cast landed in a pile of foam way right against the wall. A quick flick of the wrist sent my hopper skittering out of the foam, and heading towards the current seam along the eddy. It never made it. The enormous brown exploded on the big foam fly, and came out of the water with gills flared and head shaking. After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was little more than ten seconds, he dove to the bottom, and sawed off my tippet on one of the many boulders that lined the pool.
There isn't much to say after getting your butt kicked by a fish like that. Only one thing came to mind as I reeled my line in through my guides and started trudging back to the car...see you next year, pal.