Sam and I decided last minute to head to the Boulder Mountains to try and put Sam into the brook of his life. The forecast called for a lot of rain all weekend, but we decided to take our chances. Sam grew up catching little brookies and cutts at his family cabin, but just recently caught a terminal case of the flyfishing bug. His poor wife is now in the same fly fisherman's widow club as my wife.
We decided to stop at Cutt-Creek on the way to the Boulders. Just two days prior, Sam and his sister (my lovely wife) stopped to fish my favorite hole of the stream on the way back from a family hike outside Bryce Canyon National Park. They both hooked into nice fish in the middle of a rain storm. We saw some nice fish come up to inspect our flies, but only small rainbows were willing to play.
We decided to head forward to our main destination of the trip, Pillsbury-Pond. As we arrived at the little pond, two spin-anglers were walking back to their trucks with smiles from ear to ear. This was a good sign...so we thought. We both got into some small cutts and I managed to fool one brookie. But it was far from what we anticipated. After a little "pruning" of troublesome back-cast obstacles, we made camp with plans to exact our revenge in the morning. On the hike back to Pillsbury, the light of day was just showing through the pines and aspens. We again met two anglers hiking quickly away from the pond. "You give up already!" I shouted as they hurried by. "We've had our fill" as they passed us, the second holding a stringer with the largest Brook Trout I have ever seen in person or photo. I felt mixed emotions of jealousy and disgust that a fish that large was being taken out of this system.
We again flogged water with little reward but a few 12-14" cutts. Sam started casting dry flies and picking up more action then the usual brown seal leech was producing. I decided to give up on the big brookies and started fishing the trust purple haze. I began stalking the edges waiting for willing fish to cruise by. It's so rewarding to spot my prey and then will them to a fly!
Just as we were leaving, I noticed a cutt just under a patch of salad in the stream leading into this small pond. I cast my fly to it in hopes of sticking one more fish before leaving. The current was so slow and casting so difficult, I wasn't able to get my fly to land right. But after a leader reconfiguration and a switch to a tootsie roll, the water exploded with one last fish. It was still colored up from the spawn with deep blood-red markings on its gill plate and belly. This was the fish of the trip...so I thought.
On the way home, I called the Mrs to let her know we were a couple hours from home. But two hours turned into six as we stopped at Clint-Creek to try out luck. I've fished this stream a few times without even seeing a fish. I heard from others it held some nice fish, but I never experienced it for myself. But within the first hole, Sam and I started catching fish. 12" cutts with the occasional brook and cutt-bow were found in most likely holding spot. I had broken the curse of never seeing a fish. I saw a 16"+ cutt rise for a natural and then watched as it rose for my fly, only to spit the steel before I could set it. I tied a new pattern on in hopes if fooling it again while Sam walked up to the next hole. It wasn't much later that Sam calmly said "Mike, look at this..." as he held up an 18" Cutt.
I had to catch one of equal or greater size before I could leave this stream! I switched pattern after pattern and fished hole after hole without my goal met. My knee began to give out and I knew I was in deep sh*t with the Mrs. for being gone so long past our ETA. I tied on a stonedhopper earlier without success, so i didn't imagine my newest hopper would do much better. But I finally tied one on and decided to fish one more stretch before I threw in the towel. There was a small hole about 2' in diameter just below a large willow bush with a narrow channel running through the middle. I cast my hopper pattern in and it was immediately hit by a nice Cutt. I thought it was about 15" but I didn't hook it. I repositioned and tried the hole once more. The same fish bum-rushed my fly and carried it over the small falls below the hole. My 3wt bent in half and soon after I had a 17.5" cutt to hand...good enough to go home with a smile!