Throwback Thursday: A Little Help From My Friends

Midsummer on the Clark Fork. Fish rising to the morning dry fly. Temperatures in the upper 90s. Well after noon. Fish are down. Maybe down for good, now that the tubes are out and the river looks more like a frat party than a trout stream.
This was the scene not too long ago, when I steered the Clackacraft around a bend in the river only to see a steady stream of fun floating tubers and splashy funtime boats getting ready to launch. A few more casts and lets put the rods away, we figured. We joked a bit about tying on a rubber inner tube, and maybe getting into that big one and Jayme idly cast toward a rock in the deep stuff. The big dry fly floated a bit and then went down with a glimpse of dorsal fin that had me back rowing in a hurry and had us all standing in the boat to catch a glimpse. Jayme’s line stripped from the reel and the fish dove deep: big. The fish gave us the strong shoulder and soon we were chasing it by packs of tubes while college kids raised their beers in salute and hooted out for the cute girl with the tight line running underneath their drunken battalion. It was about this time that we remembered we’d forgotten the net back at the truck. Sure, we’d managed to bring the boat in to shore and land most of the fish that day, but there wasn’t a chance this fish was coming to hand – we hadn’t seen the thing in minutes, and Jayme’s backing was making a rare appearance. I rowed for shore, Zach hopped out along the rock-strewn bank and we hoped that at some point Jayme could change the fish’s mind and we’d find a way to bring it in close enough for Zach to slip a hand around it. After the third reel and run I put our chances at near to none on that one, when one of the voices from the fun flotilla sounded familiar. It wasn’t a whistle or a cat call, it was a fellow river rat and a Missoula local taking his Watermaster float tube out for a spin. We called him in, and he loaned us his net just in time. While the float tubers hooted and holed for the hottie with the huge fish, we all exchanged some high fives and reveled in the serendipity of a net at just the right time. “I just bought that thing yesterday,” our friend said, “That’s the first fish the thing has seen!” Here’s to a little help from your friends on the river, and a #throwbackthursday shot to a big-shouldered rainbow and friends on the river making it happen. Thanks, Chris. We owe you one.

This big rainbow hadn’t given up despite the tube hatch. Lucky for Jayme Erickson a good friend with a net showed up right on time.
The scene across the river from landing this fish. When we say “tube hatch” we mean “on river frat house.”

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