And we walked on. Past tributaries unfished and unknown. All looking appealing, calling to me, but there was an unspoken destination we know was much further, so we walked on.
The forecast called for rain, but with relative warmth and the looks of the radar it wasn’t enough to scare us off. We packed in the dark, ready to get decked out in all things waterproof. When we arrived within an hour of sunrise it was still dark and the rain was falling soft and gentle in a mist that reminded me of times in the more humid locales of the South. We suited up and we walked onward.
The water was high, you could float even the moderate sized feeders. The water had been much higher, just a week past, so most every stretch was cleared out of downed trees, the water thundered below us, and the rain fell from above. We walked with strength and speed and on the air between us there was utter anxiety.
After a fair bit we made it to the turn from the trail to the stream we aimed for. The rain had ceased, the clouds lingered.
We descended to the stream and assembled our weapons of wonder for the day. It smelled of decomposing leaves with a slight hint of fish. Everywhere was moss, ferns, poison oak, and alders just starting to push forth buds. The water here was a force to be reckoned with, running high and clear with a deep blue green tint as the depth increased.
Fishing commenced and I had my first strike from a fair sized native on the first pool I flipped my fly into. I felt good.
It wasn’t long till we had brought in the first fish of the day, a healthy sized future migrant.
We came to places on this creek that knocked us speechless and slapped us senseless.
We fished on.
For moments I felt like I was dreaming, and the dream only got better as we continued further upstream.
We came to one spot that I named Coho Bend. When I saw it I felt like I was going to catch a Coho salmon, though at most only the ghosts of Coho past now dwell in these waters, the logical and modern man would say.
It was the most incredible place I have ever fished. On all sides were cliffs that overhung the creek at the pools far bend. The creek proceeded to do a full 180 degree turn at this spot, a beautiful hairpin curve with a deep dark pool full of mystery and future wonders. The cliffs towering above were covered in ferns, moss, and awesome streaks of various geological age and order.
I worked the big hole at the Coho Bend for what seems like forever or maybe a moment, time telling is inaccurate in dreams.
Just like in my dreams, and many people's dreams, I kept trying and trying and mostly failing.
I would get a big strike on my second drift n' strip, but miss the hookset. I fished on and the incident was replayed like a skipping record.
I decided to cover more of the bend pool. I let out almost all of my 100feet of fly line, letting the fly swim all the way to the tail of the pool at which time I proceeded to start my slow, short, strips back up against the current.
Half way through the pool I had a huge strike and set the hook!
It was a slab of something fierce, angry, and utterly wild. I saw it turn and flash it's broad side at me shining bright with pink and silver. This was bigger than the other fish we had encountered and it fought accordingly.
Just as the fish had turned to show me a mere fleeting glimpse of what I was dealing with the fearless fish charged me like a freight train that was makin’ up lost time.
With all of that fly line out I could not keep the line tight and I fell to the ground, on my back, splayed out in defeat, tangled in a mess of line, leader, and fly.
The ones that get away are indeed the most memorable.