After about a week of fighting the crowds of the Madison River, Courtney and I decided to head north in search of some lonely waters. The Westslope Cutthroat in this area are nothing but fun. To watch them slowly rise from behind boulders to take size 12 stimulators, is truly a practice in patience.
With a plan in place, we threw on our packs and started up the dusty trial. After a few hours of hiking, we got to a nice deep hole we'd fished with success before. Stripping line off the reel, we had high hopes of bringing our first cutty to the surface. Sure enough, a few decent drifts and Courtney had one on the end of the line. Almost immediately, he started freaking out. To be honest, he over reacts a lot when he sees a good fish. It's something I really enjoy about him (his unbridled enthusiasm and positivity) and have become accustomed to at this point. "Dude, come here....come here!" He was nearly screaming. As I peered into the water, at the end of his line was a pretty average cutthroat. Only a few inches behind it, however, was a massive bull trout! We quickly got the cutthroat out of the water and Courtney sat down on a rock to gather himself.
The bull trout had moved back into the depths and we were already game planning on how to get the fish to come back out for more. The plan was for me to hook another cutthroat, play it in the deep hole, and then Courtney would swing a streamer right behind it. Sounded simple enough.
Two casts later, I had another cutthroat on and Courtney was muscling a six inch streamer through the air. Once it hit the water, strip...strip...strip...BOOM! The bull trout smacked Courtney's streamer and had him frozen in his tracks. You know that feeling when you're talking to a really beautiful woman for the first time and you can't get the single syllable "Hi" from off your tongue? That's exactly what I had just watched him go through. Needless to say, he was both excited that the fish swiped at his streamer and disappointed that he had locked up under pressure.
We tried the same technique again but the struggling cutthroat didn't bring the beast out to play this time. For the remainder of the trip, we had a blast catching cutthroat, hand over fist. Each time we hooked one in a deeper run, we collectively held our breath. Waiting for a shadow to follow our catch to shore.