There is something uniquely calming about an early summer morning on still water. Perhaps it is the quiet mirror of a placid surface marred only by the occasional ring of a rising trout. In wild country, one hears only the sound of water birds or sometimes here in the mountains of Yellowstone country, the early call of a bugling elk.
As one known for being mostly owned by moving water, the majority of more than 100 annual days on the water will be spent wading the currents of some of the world’s most renowned trout streams. There comes a time, however, when I crave the distinctly different mind state that comes with the probing of mysteries that lie beneath the surface of any one of three stillwater fly fisheries that tempt me away from my first love. Different as well are the moving targets that are represented by still water trout feeding on the surface.
That I am spending more days in recent years on Henry’s and Sheridan Lake in Idaho or Hebgen Lake in Montana is almost solely due to a decade long friendship with Gareth Jones, sales director of fly fishing tackle company Airflo. Truly a stillwater master, Gareth’s expertise is as inspiring as any influence I have experienced in fly fishing. And though we are separated by many thousands of miles, I seldom fish stillwater without thinking of him.
If I am doing well on a particular day, I always know that Gareth would do better. And when my effort meets with stubborn resistance from the trout, I invariably wonder what Gareth would do. Fortunately, my friend from Wales returns to this area with enough regularity to provide ongoing demonstration on how to solve still water problems. Additionally, he is always willing to assist from afar when questions arrive by phone or email.
Over time and with continuing practice, the fruitful days on my favorite local lakes have gradually become more common. And with this growth, the distraction of still water continues to intensify. Fortunately, I live in a place where deciding whether to fish still or moving water is not necessary. For example, I can fish the productive morning hours on Hebgen Lake and then be on the Madison River within a half hour for a p.m. caddis hatch or the Henry’s Fork for an evening spinner fall. And the same applies to the Idaho lakes which are even closer to my home in Island Park.
It is truly a fortunate man who has the best of both worlds at his doorstep. And as one who fits this description, I am truly grateful. But I am equally grateful to Gareth Jones for his role as a mentor and his inspiration as one of the finest anglers I have ever known. Thank you my friend.