A July 4 McKenzie River Fishing Story

Scott & Ellen

Bull Trout 1

On July 4, Caddis Fly Shop clients Ellen & Scott took a very memorable guided trip on the Mckenzie River. Ellen and Scott decided as an extension of the Introduction to Fly Fishing Class they had completed the week before, it would be a great way to learn more on the river with a guided trip. We launched at Finn Rock and headed down the river. Our first stop was a brief overview of nymphing techniques and some practice. They were very quick to learn basic nymphing and they each had some success with a few trout.
As we proceeded down a long stretch of the river, Scott’s rod took a real bend. “Fish!” proclaimed Scott. Odd, I thought, Scott’s line does not appear to be moving? I have seen many bent rods appearing more like folks have just hooked the bottom, which I thought I was seeing. However, this time the line was moving! Very slowly, in and out from the boat, line moved. The Sage 99 rod was really bending and we are all thinking….this is a big fish! But, it is not making big runs; it is hugging the bottom like it’s hung up. If it was a steelhead, it would have exploded out of the water by now.
Slowly, away from the boat, towards the boat, the fish was never within sight. What the hell has this guy have on? We pull anchor and move along with the fish. Finally, as we are nearing Cook’s Rapids, I proclaim, “Scott, that roar you hear? It’s Cook’s Rapids; we have to make a stand!”
We drop anchor, in and out, the mystery fish continues. Again, always, just out of sight. Scott is doing a fine job being patient and applying pressure. He is now gaining some line on the fish! The fish is getting closer. Hey, it’s really dark and very big! It’s a freaking huge Bull Trout! Excitement is really high and everybody’s eyeballs are on this magnificent fish. Scott continues to apply pressure, and….off goes the fish! Damn! But wait; there is still something on Scott’s line? It’s a hatchery trout! Hmmm, looks like the Bull Trout decided to go after Scott’s hooked fish, latched on to it and would not let go?
After further review, (see the teeth marks) it was intended to be a fine meal for the Bull Trout! Everyone in the boat is excited about the battle, but Ellen, now asks “is the fish still alive”? Scott and I look at each other and not say anything. There is no way the hatchery fish could even be alive since it was practically drowned by the bull trout. However, there is always a chance? I make the decision to Ellen we will attempt to revive and release.
Now, most fish stories told and heard would end here….but, not on this July 4. I attempt to revive the fish and it appears it may have some life left. I release the fish. Sadly, Ellen sees the fish belly up and floating down river. Scott and I are now attempting to say something like “oh, it’s going to be ok, it just needs a little more time”. Suddenly, out of the sky, from the trees river right, rocketing down, talons blazing, our national bird, a bald Eagle! Swoosh, the eagle now has the hatchery fish its talons and headed off to enjoy a fine meal! There is now a deaf like silence in the boat. Good grief, did we all see what just happened? Do we all believe Scott just had the battle of a life time, a huge Bull Trout, release the near dead hatchery fish, and now the Eagle? All in the boat are now in a state of “unbelievable!” We all realize the Mckenzie, once again, has given us a very special day…. July 4!


bull trout 2

This entry was posted in Fishing Reports. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A July 4 McKenzie River Fishing Story

  1. Ben says:

    The day wasn’t so special for that trout. Talk about a BAD DAY!

    Cool story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *