Well it has been one heck of a month. Last week was the craziest week to date for Hill Country Guides. The week that was to come started Friday July 17th at 11:30 pm, with a return phone call to some guy named Jay. Jay had left me three messages while I was on the water. He had called me about three weeks prior to inquire about guiding for the mornings of July 20th, 21st, and 22nd. At that time I'd rescheduled my half day trips to the afternoons and gave Jay the tentative green light for all three days, if he wanted to put down a deposit. Now he was calling to ask what I could do for him. I explained that he could lock in Monday morning. I would have to double check with my Tuesday clients and Wednesday was out.
Jay asked me, well, do you know who Luke Bryan is? At this moment I realized that the urgency on his end was due to whoever Luke Bryan was. I searched my brain, but with no television at home and 90 % of my free time spent researching for guiding, I had no idea. "Ummmm noooo?" I had to respond. Jay sighed, "Well he's a very popular country singer right now...he won entertainer of the year this year, not that any of that should matter but I thought you should know."
Although I didn't know the name I did know that "Entertainer of the Year" held a lot of weight. I told Jay that, as for any client, I'd do all that I could to get them on the water. I sent a text message to Steve and asked if he knew who this Luke Bryan was. He did and said he would ask for work off to get on the water with him...or fake his own death if need be.
When I got home I did a little research on Luke... turns out he is kind of a big deal...
With logistics bouncing back and fourth we finally settled on two guides for four people to meet on Monday morning. Jay wasn't sure what they wanted to do on Tuesday and Wednesday so we left that up in the air. Saturday and Sunday I was booked solid with a full and double half day. I spent every second between trips trying to plan for the Luke Bryan trip. I had settled on a few spots to take them when a thunderstorm hit Sunday night. I drove home from my second half day trip in some of the heaviest rain I'd ever seen.
I called Jay, "With this rain I'll let you know where we should fish in the morning." "Yeah man...if it isn't going to be worth our time just let us know, and we'll bag it." I was up until 11pm and awake again at 4 am checking the flows. Right around 4:30 the rivers began to crest, high but not too high. Jay called me at 4:35. "We are good to go!" I said with relief. At 7:30 am Luke, Jay, Christian, and Til walked into the shop. Right away I could tell that these guys were not just casual anglers. Luke asked, "You guys got anything to tie articulated streamers? We've been experimenting with guitar strings on the tour bus but they are a little too stiff." After selling the guys $300 in fly tying materials and accessories it was time to get on the water. "Let's go catch some fish!" Luke said. I was glad he was confident, the cool rain from the night before had me feeling the same way.
The fish did not disappoint. Luke hooked his first rainbow on his first cast, then promptly hooked a sixteen inch bow that threw the hook. For the next eight hours Steve and I worked with the boys while Jay and Luke put on a show, hooking dozens of trout. Tired of catching fish on nymphs Luke switched to a double dry rig. He hooked a nice brown then hooked another fish on the back fly, but broke him off. With one fly left he threw back to the same holding lie and hooked the fish again...we know because his other fly was in the fish's mouth.
Christian and Til were also excellent fishermen and each landed quite a few trout. After a big we were done for the day. Jay said he would get me concert tickets if I cared to go. I told him I would take him up on the offer as I figured I should become a bigger fan.
The next night Alicia and I arrived at Meadowbrook an hour early. We waded through a sea of cowgirls sporting Luke Bryan t-shirts and got to our seats, eight rows back from the front of the stage. As the show got started I glanced behind me. Thousands of fans spread behind us as far as I could see. As Luke took the stage the thousand broke into a roar. Turns out Luke isn't just an expert fly fisherman... he is also a darn good performer.
So back to the fishing... After I'd guided Luke on Monday I had another half day trip that went out at three thirty pm. Andrew Ward had been flexible in moving his start time to the afternoon so I wanted to be sure he had a good outing. After getting into a few brook trout on one of our smaller streams we moved to bigger water where Andrew got into two hefty browns right before dark.
On Wednesday I guided client Jake Meeder of Naples Florida. Jake brought his friends Colton and Dalton along for the ride. I taught Jake how to fly fish last summer and this year it was obvious that he'd done some practicing. We were able to land two large brook trout along with a large rainbow. Then right before we were done Jake hooked the fish of the day, a fat 18" brown with perfect fins. Wednesday evening was the showing of Hill Country Guides episode of NH Chronicle. We watched with friends and family at Seadog Brewing company. The show turned out fantastic. If you'd like to view click here. www.wmur.com
I had float trips scheduled on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All went very well with fish feeding heavily on nymphs, swimming nymphs, and dries throughout the three days. On Friday client Greg Malaska of PA commented that he had no idea NH had "Montana Esq" fly fishing. Greg did have a darn good day with over 30 trout landed.
So what's to come? The heat wave has slowed fishing during the middle of the day, however early mornings and late evenings are still seeing solid activity. If you fish the evenings don't be afraid to fish into the dark. Smaller brook trout streams are in their prime on these hot days and a well placed attractor dry is all you need to get their attention. As for the bigger rivers, fish terrestrials to the shady banks and undercut boulders. If we can get some thunderstorms the daytime fishing will turn around quickly. This heat wave looks to end by this weekend and with cooler temps we can expect fish activity to increase into the midday hours. August is looking to be another banner month here in the Whites. If you haven't seen us yet this year we still have openings through October. Please let us know if you have any dates in mind and we will do our best to get you on the water.