As I write this post, I still can not believe what happened to Ed Isbey and myself on the South Fork yesterday. It was one of those days that every angler dreams about but never really thinks will ever come to pass. I also need to say that I feel very lucky and fortunate to have been able to be on that great river and share the experience with my great friend and brother Ed.
I have been guiding since 1996. My mentors are some of the greatest guides that have ever lived. My father Randy Berry, John Pehrson, who have both guided for 50 years and Tom Fenger who has guided for over 30 years at Teton Valley Lodge. These three have been my idols my entire life. I have tried to glean every thing I could from their years of experience and knowledge. The three of these men have guided anglers into so many big fish over the years it is mind boggling. They are the dream team of guides.
The fisherman In my boat was Ed Isbey. Ed is an accomplished fisherman who has been coming to the Lodge for nearly 30 years. He loves to go for big fish and almost always gets them.
Well lets get to it. On Saturday the 11 of July Ed and myself were slated to fish the Upper South Fork, from the Dam to the Swan Valley Bridge. We were held up in the morning and could not get out of the Lodge until 11:00 am. As we approached the river we spotted my father and his guests floating down stream and we placed a cell phone call to him for some river intel on what was working. He informed us (that part is a secret), and we proceeded to launch our boat and start fishing. Things stared off well with Ed landing several nice fish in the 18″ to 20″ class. As we got a little further down the river some big fish stared hitting our flies. Then it happened. The big one hit. At first I did not think it was anything special. Maybe another 20″. But then it rolled over in the water and a huge side of meat was revealed. The fish made a run straight down stream and Ed played it beautiful. The monster then made a run for the bank, which was fortuitous because the current had broken and there was some soft water in which to fight. That’s when we knew we had some thing special. As the fish came to the surface the only thing that went through my mind was “There is no way we are going to land this fish, and no one will believe how big it was.” After some breathless moments and some skillful work by Ed the fish was ready to come in. There was only one problem. As the fish neared the net it was apparent that it would never fit. The first attempt proved unsuccessful. The fish fell dangerously out of the net. We both thought it was over. Again I tried to net it but with the same results. Finally on the third attempt, with the front half of the fish in the net I grabbed his tail and lifted with both hands and got him in the boat.
After several expletives, of which I am not proud, we dropped the anchor and got out to nurse the fish back to health, take some measurements and a few snap shots. The result was a whopping Cuttbow 29″ long by 16″ girth and a weight of 9 lbs! We were as happy as any child on Christmas morning.
After much reflection and a short lunch we headed back out on the river. We did not fish quite as hard as we were both still in a bit of shock. But the big fish were still out. With in the next hour the river blessed us with a 24″ brown and a 26″ X 15″ brown. All these fish were caught on dry flies and all were released healthy back to fight another day.
Never have I seen a day like that and I don’t plan to see one again in my next 30 years of guiding and fishing. I can only hope and dream.