Digging through the CDs in my truck, yes my truck still plays CDs, I found an old homemade CD with some Jimmy Buffet tunes. Those tunes passed the time with the miles and reminded me of some other times. Before I knew it I was at the exit and a bit early too. Ronnie was on time and after a couple quick stops we were headed down the ramp. The drifter was bobbing in the current when I returned from parking the truck. We got on the water at the time our plan dictated. Ronnie was in the front casting brace as we slid into the feeding lane, then did our best to trick a fish into a bad decision. It was slow at first. We discussed the current fishing situation with everyone and no one in particular. Then we caught the first fish.
Ronnie had his plans for fishing and I had mine. After a short time, he came around to my way of thinking and we were moving downstream at a good pace. A short time later we had another fish and then another. We were onto something and bringing fish to the net with some consistency.
A quick fly change and I cinched down the knot, or what I thought might have been some resemblance of a knot. Ronnie grabbed the Orvis Recon, wound up a cast, the line went right where he pointed the tip of the rod. The line, leader and tippet extended about 40' to his target...however, the fly came down about 2' in front of the boat. After a good laugh I retied the mid section, tippet, and a new fly just to be safe. All that was done with slight embarrassment. The laugh was on me and we sure had a good one. Retying the mid section, tippet and fly knots would come in handy later in the float.
We were dialed-in and catching a fair number of fish. We lost two large fish, but we soldiered-on. Then we came upon a bank where several good fish have been caught this year. There was one spot in particular I wanted Ronnie to hit. After seeing him make some really nice casts throughout the morning, this cast to this target seemed routine. The fly hit the water and settled. It was just a second or two when Ronnie came tight to the fish. He doesn't get too excited about too many fish, but his voice was a little higher when he said "this is a nice fish." Then it surfaced and my voice went a little higher too! The Orvis recon was in full bend down into the cork as I backed the drifter, Ronnie, and the fish into the middle of the river for some structure free water. This battle was going to fun to watch,
The fish kept pulling and digging and Ronnie kept just the right amount of pressure on the rod. All I could think about was the knot I tied earlier, while having the hope it was a good knot this time. The fish tested the rod, the fly line, the leader, the mid-section, the tippet and every knot in between throughout the fight. Ronnie did an excellent job keeping just the right amount of pressure.
We were having good communication throughout the battle. Just as we discussed the possibility of one last run, the fish took off upstream. The fish had its tail up and head down as Ronnie let little drag run a few feet of line off the reel. Then he turned the fish and after one trip around the front of the boat, the fish came to the net with one last acceleration.
Ronnie fought the fish like a pro, the knot held until the fish got into the net and then the fish spit the fly as soon as the net came over the gunnel. But, the fish was safely in the net and we had some fist bumps and handshakes to take care of.
The bigger fish can be a little hard to handle. We were able to get a couple nice shots before we put the fish back in the net to revive. With some shaky hands we released the big brown back to the bottom of the river. It was a heckuva a fish and another great day on the F/V Southeastern Fly. Let's welcome Ronnie to the Southeastern Fly 20+ Club.