So a recent post on Washington Fly Fishing got me thinking about my home water. I wrote about my home water in a previous post, however it was more about the inevitable discovery of my home water by more and more people.
I was born, raised and still live 15 miles from my river. It's a small river by any standard, doesn't have much for prolific hatches, doesn't hold a lot of fish compared to even lesser known Montana rivers, let alone the flagship waters of the mecca that is Montana. Although it holds enough fish that top 20" to constantly keep your hopes up, the average size fish is probably barely into the double digits.
Despite all of this, I have developed the bond that one only has with home water.
It is interesting in that it harbors 6 different species of trout; brook, bull, brown, westslope cutthroat, rainbow and the occasional errant lake trout. It has given up 24" rainbows to a size 20 sparkle dun, 25" browns to a #2 JJ's special and 4" cutthroat to size 4 muddler minnows.
More common are fish like these, which I am happy to catch every day of my life.
The biggest fish I've taken from my river took a JJ's streamer late on a hot, bright July afternoon. I know, not the typical conditions that come to mind for chucking streamers. After the majority of the day on the river goes by without seeing a single fish rise, every option in the fly box has been exhausted without so much as a passing glance and the thought of dredging nymphs is unbearable, the logical choice becomes a size 2 conehead streamer. Not only does this fly become the logical (read only) choice, but apparently the method is to throw it downstream and strip/twitch it like hell. That way when the 25" rainbow that weighs in the 6-7 lb. neighborhood smashes the fly just below the surface it, for all intents and purposes, took a dry.
Of course I didn't have my camera, so the image of the behemoth that is burned into my cerebrum is the only documentation. That and the other image of my boss, staring in utter disbelief with his lower jaw somewhere near his belly button. The final image permanently etched into my mind is his mouth agape and jaw dropped even further when I began gently rocking the fish back into the rhythm of the river and watched it slowly fin away back into the comfort of my river.
In recent years my river has become the beneficiary of a number of habitat restoration projects. With this comes promise. Promise of more fish to catch, along with a larger average size (at least in my experience).
My home river has understandably taught me a lot of what I know about fly fishing. Some of it unique, but the majority of which transfers to flyfishing in general..
As I mentioned before, my home river is not big (it's actually very small), doesn't hold alot of fish, doesn't hold many big fish and doesn't have prolific hatches. It is however home, and even though I am fiercely protective of it, if you're ever in western Montana, I would gladly take you to my home water.........