Man, fishing has been tough this month. I thought February was going to be a bust: it's been that slooow. And it's not just me. Nobody has been hooking up. This week I talked to some guys who floated the river and told me they got into four to six fish their last trips. This really got me more focused. The next run I hooked into a chrome hatchery(?) that came unpinned at my feet. The next day I was at it again. This water has some really gnarly natives that can and have kicked my ass on many occasions. There unfortunately aren't as many of them around. But this day I am determined. As I am fishing I notice someone fishing the next run below me. A gear guy. He is fishing the water I hoped to swing through, but c'est la vie, I'm going to have to follow him through the runs. I walk to the next run and see him starting to fish the run below. I stop and fish a short rocky tail out where I've never moved a fish, but it's fishy so I fish it. By this time I notice the guy has moved to the body of the run, so I reel up and move to the next run. This is a popular piece of water, so it's probably seen a few worms, eggs, jigs etc.. I decide to change up my rig. I cut off the big blue and black fly, change to a type three tip and tie on a sombre pattern tied on a traditional steel head iron. I do this away from the bank because fish can and do hold in close; the seam beginning in deepish water. I'm tired and my focus is waning. I tie a knot and it breaks. I tie another knot and it breaks. Finally a knot that holds. By the time I'm re-rigged I notice that my line is tangled in the surrounding foliage. I look like I've been cooking spaghetti with the Three Stooges. Untangled, I'm now ready to fish, but my focus is nowhere. I begin my first cast away from the bank, a short overhead cast with a two hander. I take another few steps closer to the bank and cast again. Finally I'm in the water stripping out the line and swinging. I'm up against the brush and my casting sucks. On about my third strip of line I cast, and it's so bad I don't even shoot the line I've stripped. But I decide to let the current pull my line out. Self conscious I look to see if the gear fisher is noticing by poorly choreographed casting performance. What happens next is foggy because honestly, my head is in a funk. What I do remember is watching my line feed through the guides, then watching my line start to bow in the water, then watching my line feed through the guides and finally a screaming reel. I can't remember if the fish jumped once or twice, but I do remember the gear guy packing up as my fish jumped just upstream of him (he's on the opposite bank). I reel the fish in and fight him with about half my sink tip in. I switch angles hoping to throw him off balance knowing that with a long iron I'm giving him the leverage to unpin himself (herself?). With a battle still ahead the hook pops free, but who cares, I just got the better of the gear guy. I doesn't happen often, but when it does... Swwwweeeeeet!!!!