For some reason (we have our theories), these Cutthroat don't act like what most of us expect Cutthroat to act like. These aren't the dumb blonde, riffle feeding, dry sipping cutts we've come to love in our famous Western Cutthroat waters. Nor are they the typical high alpine, opportunistic, munch-whatever-passes-overhead-with-a-six-foot-radius cutts. These cutts are aggressive ambush predators! They become piscivorous (fish eaters) at a relatively small size, and once they become piscivorous, fish becomes the main component of their diet. Reflecting on a day of fishing here, Josh made the statement to me, "These cutts act more like browns than most browns do!"
Tossing flies to these fish is endless excitement. The general tactic I use is to toss a weighted streamer slightly upstream in deeper pools or holding water. I let it dead drift as it sinks to the bottom of the hole and then begin quick strips to retrieve it back through the hole. My heart begins to pound each time I see a light silhouette rising from the darker, deeper water to engulf my fly. Often, as soon as my streamer plops into the water I spot a flash as a fish that was hidden up underneath an undercut darts almost immediately to attack my fly. Other times I strip all the way through a hole without any strikes and suddenly as my streamer glides up into the riffle above the hole a fish appears, lunging after the streamer with each strip, until finally it connects.
It's a special place to me. Not only is it incredibly beautiful, but the fishing is my favorite style of fishing: fishing big flies to aggressive fish with an exciting visual component. I love to not only feel a strike, but to see the action unfold, and know visually the exact moment that I need to strip set.
One of my favorite fishing moments happened on this stream. Josh was fishing a bend above me and hooked up with a fish that began to run downstream. As it made its way down, he saw a dark shape emerge from some vegetation at the waters edge and begin to chase down his fish. A cutthroat was trying to eat another cutthroat! That's freaking bull trout behavior! Insanity! He yelled for me and I raced up to put a cast on the fish. My first cast swung in front of the fishes nose as it chased the other fish. I stripped twice and he ate, only for me to blow the set. The fish darted to the side, but soon couldn't resist the lure of Josh's fish, which he was intentionally leaving on at this point. Soon the fish was back darting around. I made a second cast and BAM, he ate without hesitation, and Josh and I completed the coolest double of all time.
All of us have our special places, our sacred ground, our holy waters. What makes a place special is different for everyone. It's encouraging to know that with some time, willingness, and exploration, we can keep finding more and more of these places. So, what is it that makes your favorite places special to you?