As promised, I'm coming at you like a ninja. A quick post here, a quick post there, and here's another one that hits you in the face when you didn't even see it coming! Sit back, relax, and enjoy. And remember, we're on day 5 now, with days 1-4 getting progressively better in terms of fishing.
We woke up this morning, as always with the sun. Or at least I did. Normally I keep the blinds closed in my room at home and things stay somewhat dark until well after sunup. Not so in a tent, and I wasn't able to sleep much past 6 on any day. The first morning of the trip I made the mistake of not having a watch in the tent, so when it was light out and someone else was moving around outside I got up...to find out it was just after 5am. Oh well. But back to the point, we woke up to the tent being shellacked by the wind. You know, wap wap wap wap wap wap... If you do much camping, and you remember it had been cold earlier in the trip, you might not be surprised to find out that we were very slow in getting out of the tent. But eventually we did and I was quite happy that I chose not to sleep in this other tent that Brady had brought and we were using for storage. It wasn't doing so well. He immediately had me take a picture so that he should show it to his wife and convince her to let him buy a new one. How did it work Brady? Oh, and this also foreshadows some more mayhem to come in the following days.
In time the wind started to let up some, and we cooked up some coffee in the back of John's car. You can also see it was a bit cold, so the coffee tasted extra good even though it was cheap coffee. No one was really feeling it yet, so we all decided to go grab a nice slow breakfast in town. By the time we managed to get to town the wind was much much better and I was starting to feel a little better about the upcoming fishing to be had. My fears of fighting 20 mph winds all day (and my terror of having the newbies do that) hadn't been sitting well so this revelation helped. We all had an excellent breakfast at the cafe in town, and if you ever take a trip to the Bighorn and want to get breakfast, get the breakfast burrito. It is to die for! And I don't need to say it's way better than some stale donuts from a bag while sitting around a picnic table at camp.
After breakfast we finally headed to the river and had decided to go sans boat again. The plan was to make it down to split island again and have Brady put all his relatives on fish. Split island isn't that big so Chadly and I decided to fish the meat hole for a few hours before heading down there. It was a bit slow but we did catch a few. Here's Chad trying look cool with a fish and me actually being cool and getting a good shot of releasing one. And forget that I already told you the meat hole is really just a bunch of deep beds. This is the day I figured that out and is part of the reason why I stopped.
In a couple more hours Chad and I headed down to meet everyone else on split island and see how things were going. When we got there we were happy to hear that the newbie Bob had caught a few and had more than a few on. John had caught, and so had his dad Jack so the real goal of the day was managed pretty early in the day and the rest of the day was spent lazily fishing that area. We took turns fishing the deep eddy, or the flats above or below with great success. I got a bunch of decent video of people catching that I will eventually edit together into something coherent. But there's so much footage it's gonna take some time.
A little later in the afternoon was the best part of the trip so far. The skies clouded up and some baetis began to hatch. Down below the eddy the fish were rising, and they were rising harder than anything I'd experienced before, I think ever. The fish were climbing over one another to eat bugs on the surface. There were literally a hundred fish or more hitting the surface in a section that was about 20 feet across and maybe 40 or 50 feet long, just long enough for two people to fish simultaneously. As with any thick hatch the fish were a bit selective, but there were so many we got hits every few casts and caught quite a few. And as with most hatches it didn't last long enough, but was great while it did last. I should also remind you that the fish here are all in the 15-20" range. Catching countless 18" fish on dries with 6x and a 4wt is a ton of fun! When are we going back??
Not much longer thereafter and pretty early in the evening we all found ourselves congregated on the bank except maybe Tyler who we had to drag kicking and screaming out of the river. We called it a day pretty early and headed back to camp for beers, whiskey(s) and some good food. In all it was the best day of the trip so far, and surprisingly spent all day along one small section of water. I actually felt a little bad for confiscating that one section of water all day, but virtually everyone fishes this river from a boat and there are plenty of other good places to fish that are easy to get to with a boat so I didn't feel that bad.
That was how day 5 ended. Two more posts to come for days 6&7 and then the final day, which I warn you was fairly epic. Then again this day was pretty epic too.