Always the last place you fish
The first weekend in June each summer is when we celebrate my best friend, Mya’s, birthday. The past couple of years we have camped at the Big Falls Campground right next to the Big Fork River and the rapids.
Last year, Justin and I were bound and determined to reel in a fish from this river, so we packed our fishing rods, a variety of tackle and bait. The night we got there, we made sure we made our way to the river and right below the rapids where the river was calm for a couple of casts. We did not have any luck, but we just chalked it up to the time of day. The next morning, we made our way with our fishing rods, tackle boxes and a positive attitude even further downstream where the river was deep and slow moving. We spent about an hour there and caught nothing but a sunburn and lost at least 5 hooks each because the bottom of rivers is always unforgiving.
I have always been told that where there are rapids, there are fish, but I just always assumed that it meant the calm upstream and downstream of the rapids. I could not fathom that you would catch any fish by casting into the whirling water, because how would fish even sense or see your bait and lure? Justin has similar thoughts and after having lost at least 10 lures he did not want to get snagged and lose any more.
It was not until our last morning, Justin and I decided to bring our fishing rods with us to the shower house so we could just toss a couple of casts directly into the rapids. We didn’t even bring our tackle boxes, we just had generic weighted jigs and a plastic tail with no live bait. Clearly, we were not hopeful at this point. I cast first and right into the heart of the whirling rapids. I could feel the current of the river as I started to reel in and then I felt what I thought was a snag or getting hooked on rock, but then I felt the fish starting to fight. I told Justin I had a fish, but he did not believe me at first until my trademarked landing of a fish produced a small mouth bass being ripped from the water and arching over both of our heads and onto the rock behind us. We were in shock for a couple of seconds because this was not just a small fish, this was a decent sized fish, and it was caught in the last place we would have ever expected to have caught a fish! We made sure to take lots of pictures with this fish because a lot of time and effort went into fishing that weekend with no success up until this moment. After the small mouth was released, we decided to cast some more and have Justin catch a fish. Within a couple of casts, Justin and I both reeled in fish at the same time. We took our pictures, released the fish and almost instantly pulled in more small mouth bass. We were in this spot for at least an hour just reeling in fish after fish and talking about how this is the best fishing we have ever found. Now mind you the hour we spent in the location was only an hour because the mosquitos here were so bad that when we got done, it looked like we had chicken pox and in some of the pictures we took, you could see blood on my face from slapped, full (of blood) mosquitos. Even though we were miserable from the blood sucking nuisances, we could not believe that we were catching that many fish and we just knew that this was a once in a lifetime moment.
This tale just goes to show that fish are always in the last place you look (and fish).