I have often wondered why fish will strike at one fisherman's bait, fly, or spinner while ignoring that offered by another. Some time ago, the family was fishing at Black Canyon. I am a slow fisherman, so all of the sons and grandsons were ahead of me. I had caught quite a few cutthroat and brown trout, and had freed most of them. I came to a spot where the water raced narrowly and violently over some rocks, then swirled up against the far bank and then flowed peacefully into a quite pool.
I was fishing with night crawlers, with one small sinker about a foot and one half above the hook. I dropped the crawler into the water where it flowed rapidly over the rocks, and let it drift down into the pool. Wham, I tied into a 22-inch cutthroat. The fish and I were on even terms as long as he stayed in the pool, but suddenly he chose to bull his way downstream into swifter water. I found that I could hold him, even in the swift water, but I couldn't bring him up to me.
Trees, willows, and rose bushes lined the banks and the water was too deep and swift to wade, so I couldn't work my way down to the fish. Then just below me, my oldest son, LaVarr, poked his head out of the willows, saw me, and asked how I was doing. I yelled, "Help me! I've a big one on, and I can't land him."
LaVarr came up, worked his way through the brush to the edge of the stream, reached out and pulled the tired fish in. He took it off the hook, and brought it flipping and flapping up to me. Then he, with a disgusted look on his face, said,"
"Dad, I don't know how you do it. Ten guys have fished that hole without catching a thing, and you walk up and immediately tie into one like this."
And I must admit, I don't know either. He was not the first to make that observation. Years ago, I was fishing with my old fishing buddy, Jake. We were on Chalk Creek, working up stream, and Jake was ahead of me. Then I caught up with him. He was fishing in a pool just below my favorite hole. He was disgusted. He hadn't caught many fish, and I nearly had my limit. When I walked up, he said, "You can have this hole. I'm going up to the big one." He started to walk away. I dropped my Mormon Girl fly gently into the water at the head of the pool, and immediately tied into a fish. I yelled at Jake, and he turned around, and said something like, "To hell with you!"
He went up to the big hole, and fished there for a few minutes. Again, I caught up with him. He was distinctly unhappy, and he said, "There's nothing in here, I'm going back to camp." While he was bringing in his line and fly, I flipped my beautiful girl up to the top of the hole. Again, I caught a fish. Jake didn't say a word, he just turned and walked off.
I cast the fly in again, and I had a battle on my hands. I had a big one, and I didn't think my tapered leader would hold him. He headed for the lower end of the pool and swift water, and I turned him. He dove for some brush dangling in the water at the top of the pool, and again I turned him. We fought back and forth like that for several minutes while I cried, "Jake, Jake, come and help me. I've got a big one." But he ignored me, and trudged on.
Finally, the fish tired, and I worked him up and over the bank, then I fell on him. I wasn't going to lose him because he was, by far, the largest fish I had ever caught. I straddled him, and held him down with the weight of my body, and yelled, again, for Jake. He was so big, ten pounds, that there was no way that I could kill him, so all I could do was hold him.
I kept screaming at Jake, and telling him that I had a granddaddy, but he didn't believe me. Then, recognizing the urgency in my voice, I guess, he turned around and came back, and as he found a club, and whacked the fish over the head, he, like LaVarr, said, "I don't know how you do it."