Missing Net: Last seen with this Yakima cutthroat.

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by dibling, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Funny story about that net.

    Every year, I try to carve out a week of vacation (despite the wife’s objections) for a man week in Montana, Idaho or other super trouty locations. I had self-appointed myself as an “improved” flyfisher and since I was going back to Montana, I decided to draw measurement lines on the net.

    The hoop was 15”, so anything above the line represented a nice fish and a treasure for Washington State streams (right?). I thought to myself, “I’m going to surpass that so easily in Montana. “

    We arrived at Noxon Reservoir, which is my friend’s family destination. Seriously, generations of his family’s clan has camped in one specific pullout, caught trout, hunted elk and generally shot the shit over the past 30-40 years. It’s one of those places where the great stories outnumber the great scenery and you can’t help but feel that you should uproot everything you own, move to Montana and find a new Montana beer bar, bar maiden (I’m assuming my wife would not be super into the Montana plan – might as well run the contingencies), and settle down.

    With my fancy measurement lines drawn across my net we arrive….. to four straight days of torrential downpours. I’d been less wet in my actual shower at home.

    In between rain breaks, I managed to float across the small cove on a loaner pontoon and saw some large fish scurry away as my profile overshadowed them. Spooking everything in sight, I meandered up toward the mouth of the creek and saw a fish working in about a foot and a half of what looked like pure classic frog water.

    I have no idea what he was rising on…. It wasn’t something I could see. He (obviously a dude fish from the boxer shorts he wore) kept surfacing lazily every minute or so. So I put on a dirty elk hair caddis and started attempting to land it at least 4% near the fish. With every cast the asshole moved further away. Eventually, I see him rise at what seemed like hero distance away. I make a hero cast (probably 40 feet which felt like Russell Wilson throwing on fourth and 7 to Jermaine Kearse in the end zone). The fish gulps, I reel him in and he clocks in at 16”. Booya, I broke the hoop line!

    We endure a few more days of rain that would have sunk a small battleship, then decide to move the trailer down to Rock Creek outside Missoula. Yes, that famous Rock Creek. The one full of a bajillion trout where every forum-goer ever says “try Rock Creek.” So I tried it.

    My first rock creek trout measured in at about five inches; the second about six. Throughout the three days there (one a snowy fall day) I’d managed only one fish that put a dent in the Montana marks – a rather spry cutthroat that scraped the 15 inch mark. That fish was particularly rewarding as there was a couple watching the action over the swinging bridge. I looked good. They looked good. The trout looked good. Flex and stuff.

    I had an hour or two max before I wore out my dad’s patience and we needed to hit the road. I had convinced him to drive to Montana on a “man” trip for a full eight days without a shower (long story… best told over a fifth of bourbon some other time) and he was ready to hit the road back to Seattle. “Give me just another hour, DAD,” I said with my best adorable “Don’t you want your son to be happy” voice.

    So I ran a half a mile toward a spot that looked particularly cherry on the snowy day prior. Naturally, there was a “giant trout” hovering in some slow boulderly water. There was a nice stepdown and two fish working the current – hovering mid-depth – pounding whatever nymph was floating by.

    The larger fish was beautiful. Bright streak of pink down its side working back and forth over a two to three feet horizontal distance. Because I’m lazy, I tie on a big ugly stimulator dry and hope I can rise him. After about three perfect drifts (and let’s say five shitty ones), I realize he isn’t going to be tricked by an easy gigantic meal. So I tie on the smallest midge dropper I have – version two of Troy’s homemade midge, which really means it’s the first fly I’ve been trying to learn how to tie (You can’t really mess up yarn and a beadhead).

    I miss a cast – too near to me. I make a second effort, which is in that danger zone that is either going to be a legitimate ignore or at least have a 14% chance of a foul-set. Instead, I watch the fish freak out like it just rammed a steel chopstick into an electric outlet. Fish on!

    I leap from boulder to boulder to net my trophy… nearly pissing my pants with excitement that the biggest fish I could see ate my stupid hand-tied midge. THIS FISH IS GOING TO BE HUGE.

    I bring out the Montana net and it doesn’t even clear the hoop. My pride and joy was 14” if we’re stretching (I’m ignoring the obvious dick joke here). After a week in Montana, my largest “brag” fish barely cleared my first mark. Eighteen inches, 20 and 21 weren’t even in the mix.

    Which brings us to last Sunday.

    I’ve never had any real success on the Yakima. In summer flows, I’ve tossed some hoppers and earned some generic 10-12” overly eager youth. You know, the kids that carried their skateboard across the street to smoke after high school let out.

    I see the hero pics from Red’s, Worley and Evening Hatch and think that they must be fishing other rivers – certainly not the freestone pain train that is the upper Yakima.

    Setting pride aside, I finally booked a guide trip to show me where I was going wrong. It turns out I mended about as well as captain hook sewed a sweater and my east coast “pocket water” experience was about as relevant as history class to an NFL prospect.

    So after a day of learning, some lost fish, I set off on my own to prove that I could emulate what I’d learn and find some success on my own.

    Long story, big fish.

    I worked where a side-channel met the main river and just before another cast, my line screamed off toward the main stem. After a few minutes of “OMG I CANT LOSE THIS FISH [HEAVY BREATHING]” I brought this beauty of a cutthroat to net. It measured in at 20.5” inches and serves as the single largest trout that has graced my presence in Montana, Idaho or Washington.

    I sat on the sidelines after releasing it, cackling like Richard Sherman in the super bowl. “That didn’t just happen.” There was no one there to watch. Just me and nature and a little left over snow.

    Three casts later I try to re-create the experience.

    I take a step toward the confluence, slip to my ass, and watch my net sail away downstream. I made two nice casts over the top of the net as it drifted toward Cle Elum, but the fish gods give and they take away. They traded me the trout of my short lifetime for a few hand-drawn marks of black felt ego.

    Rest in Peace my net. May you find a better owner who doesn't send you surfing down a chilly river in March.

    (But if you find this net somewhere east of Bullfrog, please message me).

    - Troy

    Missing Cutty.jpg IMGP0630.JPG IMGP0629.JPG
  2. Great story & well-told.
  3. Sad story for the net but you don't "have" to go to Montana for large trout. Don't get me wrong. That's a great place to go to fish for trout, no question. But I have actually been out trout fishing four times since February and that's a record for me. I usually stay very close to the salt water. Two trips were skunks but the other two netted, no pun intended, fish of 15", 18", and 21" as well as numerous others in the 11" to 12" range. I plan on some more trout expeditions in the near future having found, maybe, something I lost over the past 10 years.
    dibling likes this.
  4. Nice report. TY
  5. Wow, that's a hog. Are you sure it's 20.5? Lets just call it 23", because it looks huge next to your net. It's a tough river sometimes, but then you catch one like this. :)
  6. Great story with an unfortunate end!

    My old gauge of fish size was determined by how well it fits in my way to small net.

    If it lies the width at the bottom, its 18-19 inches.

    If its side touches the wood or it fan turn and be out of the net, its 20+
  7. I use a very small net so the trout always look larger :)

    Now you have a good reason to buy a new net... plus a great story. The story is worth the price of the net -- I consider flyfishing on a story-worthy basis... the loss of equipment is acceptable if a great story can be told in regards to the loss.
  8. Outstanding report and well written. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Very well written. Excellent fish. The loss of the net adds to the chapter!
  10. Cool report, bummer about the net, where exactly did you lose it? Not like I would fish that spot or anything, you know, I'd just be looking for that net...;)
    dibling likes this.
  11. Shouldn't this be in the Lost and Found forum. ;)
    dibling and c1eddy like this.
  12. Great post.
    Ahhh....the Karma of flyfishing.
  13. Good post, nice fish. Sorry about your lost net.

    Reminds me of standing out in the middle of a river, I go to reach for my wading staff, and it wasn't there any more.
  14. great post! thanks for taking the time to share it.

  15. Heretofore all Cutthroats referenced in this thread are 23".
    Patrick Gould likes this.

  16. This cracked me up. I saw what looked like an even larger rainbow earlier that day tucked under a log in a spot that was impossible to cast to. There are more to be had for certain.
  17. Fun read.

  18. Sounds like a fair exchange to me. ;)

    Nice write up - good laughs along the way. And, that was a really nice cutty.

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