I always say there’s no such thing as a lucky catch on the South fork of the Snake River. Every fish is earned — even if they are small, especially if they are big. It’s a holy water out there that renders every trout powerful with a divine and beautiful strength making it a fair wrestling match between man, river current, wind and trout every single time a fella hooks up.
Robert caught this lovely cutthroat at near dark, just off the gravel bar we parked our raft on for the night. I had built a fire and was pulling out the stove to cook dinner when I heard him call out the words, “Loo, I have one on!“
I left what I was doing to watch him carefully play this fish and eventually bring it to hand. The sun had set. All was dusky. I looked out over the water and saw trout after massive trout rising like porpoises alongside an ocean going ship; backs humped, slick and shining, rising up against the river current to take bugs off the surface in a full fledged feeding frenzy. It was the witching hour for fish — something I have been privileged to see so often in this blessed life of mine.
This cutthroat was a dapper old dandy, such a honor to catch, inspect and release back into the night to once more do his bug slurping from the surface of holy waters. I watched him leave Rob’s hand, kick his spotted tail in reckless contempt of the August breeze, disappear into the river, and I whispered to myself, “Amen.”