Gray Reef New Year’s Day 2007
In Ralph's honor and tradition, several of us fishing buddies made the trek to Gray Reef on New Year's day, 2007, just to have some fun and take full advantage of an out-of-state annual Wyoming license fee. As we had five but only one boat, Alan and I floated the first day in Scott's Gorgeous handmade driftboat while Ken and Mike wade fished the dam and outhouse. All caught fish in balmy 20 degree weather with only a gentle 10-15 mile an hour breeze. Getting back and thawing out, Ken and Mike championed Mike's 25 inch rainbow caught on an olive WD-40. No arguing with the pictures.
While I cooked potatoes and Mike the steaks (on the grill of course,) Ken set to work tying us all the magic WD-40 pattern. The next morning, Alan and I took the wade and shuttle duty while Mike, Ken and Scott floated. Alan took me to his favorite spot and told me where to stand. Cloudy and not too windy, I was grateful that I was waist deep in 38 degree water to keep me from freezing. I put on the olive WD-40 and was soon into a pocket of small fish 8-14 inches. After five fish I was ready to move a bit, but lack of inertia kept me casting.
Then the magical happened. The subtle take you wait for for years, and the rod tells you this is a BIG FISH.
I see the huge tail and then the whole fish come briefly to the surface. It's HUGE and he has a big white scar on his mouth; nope, that is a dead eight inch rainbow it just coughed up floating downstream. Oh my God! My instant reaction was of course to yell to Alan and proceed to wade into chest deep water while fighting the fish. Alan calms me down, coaches me out of the deep water, then strategically stays in front of the fish so he won't go downriver into faster water.
We slowly dance the hog over to the bank and a deep area of slack water. Six, seven, ten minutes go by and the fish is bulldogging down to deep water but never panicking and running. Alan keeps me from panicking and running. My guides are about froze, so Alan coaches me as I pull off line from the reel when he surges to give him room and then reel it back in. As he comes more to the surface Alan steps in with his net.
“That net Alan?!? It's Too Small!”
“Don't worry Greg, I've done this before.”
Alan stays downstream and I lead the fish to him best as I'm able. First scoop and the line glances the net as the fish surges. My internal organs rearrange. Easy does it! Finally the fish begins to roll and Alan scoops up his snout while it is disoriented, bear hugs the brute and carries him to shore. YEAAAAAAA ! I am in complete shock. A quick tape measures 27 3/4 inches, the biggest trout of my lifetime and the most fantastically brutish brown trout you have ever seen. My reel next to his head is a third its size. Hooked at the tip of the upper snout with that tiny fly on 4X tippet. Alan gets a couple of quick photos and we watch the brute swim off back to the deep.
I scream, I yell. The unreal IS real. I finally remember to pee. Alan and I congratulate each other. Scott led the trip, Mike found the hot fly, Ken tied it, Alan told me where and how. I got to hold the rod. I am forever grateful for such good friends. You can tell I am speechless.