Sacred Fishing Holes

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Louis Cahill Photography

Louis Cahill Photography

By Alice Tesar

It might have been the coyotes that kept me awake the night prior.

More likely it was thoughts about the section of river we planned to visit that day. I’d heard a lot about the spot and debated it’s worthiness. I had heard that those who wander this stretch of river alone rarely find success, that it was imperative to partner fish, where one person spots the fish from a vantage point and the other casts from the hole below or further down river from the bank. My fishing partner had fished here many times and I was forced to swear secrecy. 

“Don’t tell anyone about this spot you wouldn’t mind running into out there,” he told me.

The cool wet morning was filled with anticipation — I sipped my coffee and watched the sunlight peeking over land making everything shimmer. After loading up the truck, my fishing partner and I drove down the dirt road to the river. Pulling off at a nondescript field, we rigged up, took a swig of Fireball (hair of the dog), and hopped the fence startling the nearby grazing cattle. Off to a remote bend in the river we went.

  We stumbled through the lumpy pasture to the river, where a drop created by a large fallen cottonwood made a deep pool in the otherwise shallow river. Standing far back on the shore, careful not to scare off any feeding trout in the pool, I cast in. 

My indicator drifted along to a tangle of sticks that had accumulated where the river shallowed. Releasing the snagged fly proved difficult without disturbing the water and I feared I’d ruined our chances of catching anything in this hole. A few more casts and my bright orange indicator sunk fast and hard. My buddy grabbed his net and stood near as I played out the fight. The fish pulled my line around the small pool and headed for cover under the low branches of the tree at the top of the hole. In a moment of overconfidence, I adjusted my rod and line to steer him away from the tree but he’d figured out my plan and spit the hook with ease.

_DSF2778-EditIn my mind’s morning haze, I’d only planned for the eat and had not considered how the fish might fight and how we would get her to the net. With this unfortunate loss to start our day we moved our stealth mission upstream. So began a morning of casting to spooky trout, working the river with a streamer rod and a nymph rig. Taking turns at each pool that held any semblance of fishiness we were delighted with healthy browns and colorful brookies.

The unexpected technical skill required by this river and its residents served up the most rewarding catches that day. These moments I owe to thriving wild trout streams and fishing partners willing to share their most sacred fishing holes. 

Alice Tesar
Gink & Gasoline
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