I don’t really float rivers often. I don’t own watercraft and hiring a guide is most certainly a luxury.
But, when one of your college-aged kids, the one who loves to fly fish, asks for a father-daughter outing, you check the budget, do some math, call Chris Jackson, and pencil in a date. It would take a lot for me to book a float for me. But, for one of my children? An easy decision.
We left the house at an hour that was very early for a young adult. In fact, my daughter said, “I don’t remember the last time I got up this early!” It was a smooth drive, and we met up with Chris at 7 am, eager to fish a river that I’ve never drifted.
Chris knows his stuff, and we quickly oared to some micro spots. It was amazing. All around us, you could see substantial trout glide away as we got closer. The sight of a big brookie nonchalantly cruising and feeding really whet my interest. And, we saw some biggies.
Chris told us where to cast, and, miraculously, we were tight to fish right away. You name it, but we saw them: wild brookies (both bucks and hens), stocked rainbows, and the occasional brown.
Drifting with Chris, which I’ve done before at the Deerfield (post here), is a very pleasant affair. He is a unique person. Someone on social media recently posted this about Chris: “A great guide and an even better human being.” I agree 100%.
He knows his angling, and he is great with people, particularly with younger adults. Chris is even-keel, a great conversationalist, and able to suppress grimaces and groans when you snag branches or tangle your rigs.
Truth be told, there were some tough casts to make, given all the over-hanging tree branches and narrow spots where fish would hold. We didn’t cast perfectly all the time. But, we did hit enough spots, and that resulted in quite a few fish. I think we were well over a dozen fish landed in just a few hours. We landed some substantial trout and bounced others. A 12″+ wild brookie is, to me, one of the best salmonids to target.
The action was steady all morning, but by 12 noon, fish activity ground to a halt. We fished just one fly pattern for the entire outing, as Chris knows what the trout want to eat.
In the ninth inning, we drifted through a very fishy spot. My daughter set the hook well, and an enormous rainbow jumped out of the water. It was a wily fish, and we could see it wrap the leader around a large branch before it took off and popped off the fly. But, what a fish to behold. I suppose there’s a reason why some fish get big. They know how to maneuver.
My daughter is older now. Normally, she would be doing a summer job in another state, but the virus had other plans. But, she rebounded quickly and lined up some awesome virtual internships with Trout Unlimited and the TRCP. Today’s younger generations know the impact of climate change. I believe that the future of cold-water fisheries is in their hands.
At mid-day, we oared back to the put-in spot, gave our earnest thanks to Chris, and drove back home. Fly fishing is always great. But, fishing with my children comprises some of the best life experiences I’ve ever had.
Thank you, Chris, for a great outing!