It Ain't Pretty

Cue the ‘70s porn music because the water is finally dropping and watching fish eat bugs on the surface is dead sexy.

The tricos got the fish moving in the morning. They had done the same thing the day before in the same run. We watched the backs of rainbows, cuts, cutbows, and browns raise just below the surface of the water—less than an inch. Every once in a while a fish would turn slowly, drift, and follow a bug that I couldn’t see before crushing it with a snap. It would then turn back into the water column and resume its previous spot in the run, jockeying for position.

Dead Sexy.

“Here… drop a trico,” said my buddy Mitch.

A few days before I’d been in my local shop. I was squinting hard into a display rack of tiny patterns—size 22s and 24s. I’ll admit, I felt a bit out of sorts. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s been quite some time since my last serious trout trip. That’s when the voice of Jim Kanda boomed from behind me.

“What is Will Rice doing in that corner of the shop,” said Kanda. “Don’t tell me that Will Rice is going trout fishing?”

“I’m going trout fishing,” I said with a laugh.

“Will Rice is going trout fishing, I don’t believe it,” he said. It was like he was announcing a blue light special on aisle four. We talked bugs and water for a couple of minutes and I was on my way.

A few hours later I was on the bank of a river at dusk watching fish gorge on caddis and BWOs. After a long and ridiculous runoff season, it was electrifying to see the water drop and fish behaving like they should. Seven fish moved to my fly and I hooked exactly zero. We called it a night and headed back to camp, where an imported bottle of exotic bourbon awaited.

The following day we made it up the winding drainage on a skinny dirt road. We passed wider meadow runs and steep box canyon walls.

We found a section of nice pocketwater with boulder drops, swirling clear pools, and low hanging branches that provided ample shade. I worked diligently to re-tie a rig that included a size 22 midge pattern. I’m always amazed at how unskilled I feel at the start of trout season trying to tie small tippets and bugs—it doesn’t feel like riding a bike at all. After a few minutes I put the dry-dropper behind a rock and watched a brown move from the depths and take the tiny midge.

As soon as he turned his head I raised my rod tip and watched the fish rocket out of the water. I dipped my rod like I was tarpon fishing and the small trout crashed back into the water. It ran downstream and I tried to put the brakes on. In one quick second the fish popped me off and sent my entire rig thirteen feet into the air and around a tree branch. I stared up at the tangled hot mess hanging from the limb and then back down in the water. Downstream a fished smacked another bug on the surface, revealing its location. It sounded sexy. Brown-chicken. Brown-cow.

Brown Chicken Brown Cow—(interjection)—1. An onomatopaeic imitation of the guitar riff commonly heard in 1970s porn movies. 2. A vocal representation of bass riffs made popular in 1970s funk, and subsequently associated with porn from the same era.

Will Rice
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