Thursday, October 10, 2013

Today, A Rock Star

Craig was and is an avid fly-fisher. He's part of a group I've been guiding for a few days now. He's also got Parkinson's.

We dropped Craig's partner for the day off at a pull-out around noon because he needed to catch a flight out of Helena. He grabbed his lunch and jumped in the car after catching a bunch of fish in the limited time he had. Looking at the weather and the fact there were already fish coming up to dries he turned back to Craig as he was walking away and said, "You're going to have a great rest of the day. God, I wish I didn't have to leave."

We said our goodbyes and headed back across the river to the islands below town and noticed some fish rising at the tail-out of one of the islands. I rigged a dry-fly rig up for Craig and helped him out of the boat to take a few shots at the sippers.

Craig's skills are obviously deteriorating due to this nasty and incurable disease. He was having a tough go at it; trying to drop a fly right on the seem and then feeding line down to the fish. After putting those fish down we moved up the channel between the islands and he put the next couple fish down without getting a drift over them. It was tough to watch because I knew where Craig was and where he is now and how frustrating it must be. There was no coaching in the world that was going to help--just reassuring he would get more chances.

We ate lunch and moved down to the bridge by Bloomquist's lodge. We found more fish up and Craig hooked a couple and actually landed one. It was a small but significant victory but the next pod of fish went down without touching one. Again, all I could was tell him he would get more chances and as he climbed back in the boat, he agreed and said that's all he could ask for anymore.

We found another huge pod of fish a little down-stream from the riffle below the bridge and sat on them for a while. We hooked a couple but didn't land them. At 4 o'clock I had to tell Craig it was time to move. We still had a couple miles to go so again he climbed back in the boat.

I told Craig to cast over the pod as went moved down and he did, hooking a fish and landing it. We turned the corner into the channel at Bernie The Billionaire's and saw a huge pod working. Craig pulled a 20 inch rainbow on the way through.

We kept pushing down; taking shots at rising pods of fish and as long as the boat was positioned right, Craig could put a cast over them and they would eat. Pod after pod of fish, all the way to the Dearborn ramp; Craig was putting his fly on their noses and absolutely wrecking them. Just about ever seem had fish on it eating and he was getting 'em much more often then he wasn't.

We got to the ramp to take out after landing his last fish--about an 18 inch brown. He was stoked but a little disappointed we were done. I was too but for that day on the Mo, Craig was an absolute rock star. Nice work Craig.

Keep 'em where they live...

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