A Green River Experience

Why do I do this to myself? I’ve been casting on the Green River for eight hours and haven’t caught a thing. Feelings of frustration, impatience and inadequacy have crept in to my mind and are gnawing away. Nali, my two year old lab who can find endless satisfaction with almost any stick, sits on the bank behind me, bored out of her gourd. I think of other fisherman who would have caught their limit hours ago, and I consider the number of times I have struggled to effectively fish for trout. The day started off with thoughts of grandeur then slowly my brain wandered towards life’s other elements, at first glossing over the negatives then returning to them and eventually honing in on the decisions that led to this point and why I continue to find myself beating my head against a wall while trying to discover the keys to successful trout fishing.

The Green River ranks among the best trout streams in the North America. This past week I fished the tailwater section below Flaming Gorge Dam. The consistently cold water temps and abundant hatches result is an estimated 20,000 fish per mile for the first 7 mile stretch of river and supposedly excellent fishing year round.

As a guide in Alaska I would see two ways fishermen went wrong. One fisherman was too impatient and spent most of his time switching flies while never giving any of them a fair chance in the water. As a result, the limited number of casts meant fewer fish. The other fisherman continued to make the same mistake all day long. They might fish a nymph rig too shallow, have sloppy drifts or simply not target the right areas. Unfortunately, on Wednesday it felt like somehow I was the worst hybrid of the two styles. I would adjust depth and work a section of river before changing the fly and eventually realize I had probably been targeting the wrong area all along. Despite the shoddy performance, by the end of the day I had developed a level of resolve. I would not leave the river Thursday unless I either caught a fish or the sun went down.

As I breathed in the cold morning air off the river Thursday morning I tried to push the stale memory of the day before from my mind. I felt confident that my approach would maximize the chance of success, but not confident that the maximum was all that high. After working up the river for a little over an hour I set the hook, and the line tugged back. A flash of yellow streaked out of the hole and downstream. I scrambled off the bouldering I had been teetering on and stumbled my way down the bank all the while waiting for the hook to pop, the line to go slack and my heart to sink as the fish darts back to safety. Finally, the fish tired and swam close enough to shore for me to rush out and scoop him up, soaking my asics and jeans in the process.“We did it Nali! We did it!” She looks blankly back at me with the same amount of enthusiasm as a teenage daughter watching her dad excitedly pick out a new pair of new balance sneakers. Rude, considering the number of sticks I’ve thrown for her; she could at least throw me a bone.

Thanks for reading,

Stu

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