Another summer day meant another day sitting at home. The seemingly endless self-quarantine had all but brought on cabin fever. Looking to get away, local rivers initially seemed like a good respite. Unfortunately, even with the pandemic, there would still be a mess of others on the water. As many of us know, some anglers can’t social distance to save their own rods while other social distance by jumping in just ahead of you. To get away from crowds and heat in the valley, a high elevation favorite (with tiger trout) came to mind. The forecast called for clouds and a slight breeze but ended up being dead calm and clear skies. Rigging up, I glassed the surface for any signs of feeding. No hatch was visible and turning over rocks yielded no additional clues. A soft hackle was chosen and the search began. Excitement slowly dwindled as minutes walking the bank turned to hours without seeing a single sip.
Feeling frustration set in: I reeled up, reminded myself why I was there, and found a patch of shade. Sitting down, a small, dark shape darted past my legs. I sprang up to see a pair of beady bat eyes staring back at me. He wasn’t thrilled having his spot usurped but was kind enough to pose for a few photos.
Resuming the search, a sandy spot was chosen for the last stand. The trout were holding deeper than anticipated and my mistake was only bringing floating fly line. Hoping to mitigate the issue, the leader was lengthened and a weighted scud tied on.
The cast was made and 30 seconds passed before beginning a slow, hand-twist retrieve. The tenuous stillness was suddenly interrupted by a violent jolt and line popping from my fingers. Sick to my stomach, I scrambled to regain control of the stack of line at my feet. I lifted the rod and quickly walked backwards. To my disbelief, the rod doubled over and more line shot through the guides.
Several nerve-racking runs ensued before I could gain any ground. Each headshake sent vibrations through the line as the tippet rubbed over its teeth. Keeping the rod flexed to the cork, the fish finally came within reach. The scoop was made and a wave of relief passed over as I looked down to see a beautiful, kype-jawed Tiger. A few mug shots were taken and he was released to saunter back to his home. Part of me wanted to keep going, but a bigger part was satiated by finally figuring out what the fish wanted. And although a single fish day, it provided a spot of solace in an otherwise stifling state of the world.