Fish with the Bish
June 23, 2007
First of all, I should probably address the headline for this column: "Fish with the Bish."
I’ve often been called "the Bish" or simply "Bish" as a nickname for Bischoff (not to be confused with other local "Bish’s" in town). So, naturally, it rhymes with the common name for gilled, finned creatures and is incredibly catchy.
Anyway, once a week, you can fish with me via column. I have been handling a fly-rod since I could grab a fork and I’ve been a part-time guide on the Provo River, off-and-on, since 2001.
I’ll impart my advice knowing that fishing is sometimes a stroke of luck and any fisherman’s advice is good as another’s.
When I was roughly 14 years old, I took a fly-tying class from Tim Wade, a fly-fishing guide who lives and runs a shop in Cody, Wyo. I looked to Wade as fishing mentor, one who knew all, like the Dalai Lama of angling.
The many waters that surround Cody haunt fly-fisherman. But for me, at the time, I was only concerned about one small river (Porcupine Creek) where it seemed the brown and rainbow trout voluntarily leaped out of the water into my pockets at the site of a Rio Grande King dry fly.
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One particular day on Porcupine Creek forced me to go into North Fork Anglers, Wade’s fly shop, to receive further enlightenment.
Porcupine Creek usually yields many small trout. Anything 15 inches and over is considered huge. On this day, I was fishing with a Montana Nymph tied with some white rubber legs sticking out of it. Its meeting with a large nose in a small riffle next to the bank changed the way I viewed fishing. I didn’t see it at first, but it rose to meet my drifting Montana Nymph and instinct enabled me set the hook.
It was like no other fish I’ve caught. Word from the Fish and Game was 30 percent of the fish in there were over three pounds; I just never saw them and didn’t believe it.
I believed it now and this one was twice that size.
As soon as I set the sharp point of the Montana Nymph’s hook into the large brown’s lip, it started rolling on the surface like a crazed crocodile with a wildebeest jammed in its craw. The sheer size of the brute was shocking and I almost lost my rod into the river out of fear. As a 14-year-old, I had never seen anything this large.
Then it stopped and took off downstream.
My reel was singing as the crocodile-trout swam to lower pools. It stopped and hugged the bottom of a deep hole for a couple minutes.
To keep up with the beast, I jogged about 50 yards downriver. I was tired. But the fish wasn’t. It started to pull again, threatening to leave the comfort of its dark hole by going over a small waterfall.
I wouldn’t let him. I wanted to end this struggle.
That was my mistake.
Crocodile-trout’s face rose to the surface in response to increased pressure from my fly rod, our eyes made contact as my fly popped out of his lip, the fish sank slowly back into the dark abyss and was gone forever.
A few days later I stepped into North Fork Anglers Fly Shop on Cody’s Main Street and found Wade tying flies.
"Tim," I said. "There’s this stream with large fish but I always catch the small ones, how do I get the big ones?"
I wanted to hook into more of those in the 30 percentile, obviously.
"The most important thing," Wade said, "Is the first cast. The bigger the fish, the smarter. If that first cast spooks a fish, you’ll have no chance."
The second thing, he said, was getting the flies to the big fish quickly so the small fish can’t get the fly first. Oftentimes, when a small fish is caught it will spook the big one.
"Third thing," Wade said, "it usually takes some good luck."
I never hooked into another big one in Porcupine Creek, and I realized Wade’s advice was as good as any. "It usually takes some good luck."