William Phelps, (One of the Fishiest guys I know) experienced one of those days this summer when everything comes together. The fish were hungry, the flies were perfect, and the rewards were priceless.

I stepped outside and felt the light rain and I knew it was going to be a good day. The lower parts of the creek had been fishing well up until today, especially with streamers. The slight turbidity to the water has only been a plus during the final days of the snowmelt runoff. Today I met up with guide and friend Jeff Minnich at A Bar A guest ranch where I’ve been a guest with my family for the past few days. We hopped into the Suburban and made our way to the creek, both of us sipping our coffee and discussing the inclement weather with grins on our faces. We began fishing with a hopper dropper along the banks. Brown trout were going berserk for both the hopper and the dropper, and Jeff would turn to me and say “there’s definitely a fish under there.” I would cast my hopper right where he predicted and…wham!

A hopper-eating brown trout to start off the day.

After some success on the hopper dropper, we decided to turn it up a notch and throw some streamers. We rigged up double streamers with an olive wooly bugger in front, and jig-head slump buster tied off the bugger. Fish were clobbering both flies. It was unbelievable how willing the fish were to take a streamer in a creek less than ten feet wide in most places.

We came upon a large bush overhanging the creek, and I decided to swing the streamer right under it. I saw a bright yellow flash and I knew I just missed a strike from a big fish. I threw the flies right back in there and this time I felt a tug and no fish! What the hell! Jeff gave me a large articulated streamer and the fish went after it a third time and I STILL missed the connection. It was a frustrating moment, but exciting nonetheless. We migrated upstream to the head of a run that tailed out near some brush. Jeff told me to work my way down with my streamers, casting across and swinging them down. As I made my way downcasting and swinging, a leviathan jumped out at my flies and missed them altogether. I felt my heart sink and looked over at Jeff in disbelief. He fell to his knees, and we were both stunned. “Why does this keep happening?!” was all I could think. I made another cast, and immediately the fish was on. Jeff jumped to his feet, grabbed his net, and scooped up one of the largest brown trout I have ever seen in my life. We took some photos, released the beast, and giggled like little girls. It was one of those moments when we realized why fish- and we saw the reason right in front of us. Success.

The beast.

We continued to fish streamers throughout the rest of the day and managed to land some more beautiful specimens. I presented my streamer to a fish sipping dry flies in a back eddy that followed it across the main current, over a shallow sandbar- and when I only had three feet of leader out from the tip of my rod, the brown jumped out of the water when slamming the fly. To end an outstanding day, we experienced a PMD hatch that the fish were very aware of. We found a pod of rising fish and managed to land a few more before heading back to the ranch.

A flawless brown that Jeff took on a well-presented PMD pattern.

Jeff with a streamer-eating rainbow on his first cast of the day.

For more info on A Bar A Ranch, head to their website. 

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