Some thoughts on "bank sitting"...

I have spent hundreds of days on the Henry's Fork in Idaho. I think most fly fishers that have experienced the Henry's Fork would readily agree that this river is almost always a test...even for the most experienced among us. You need to have all of your skills sharpened and ready to go. In addition to a lot of time on the river, I have been very fortunate to know and fish with some of the very best fly fishermen to ever cast a fly in this magnificent place. As a result, my learning curve was much shorter than most. Aside from the first few years on the HF when every minute was an intense learning experience, much of my time was spent sitting on the bank watching a particular fish. Most often, it was a big fish (by comparison to most others in the river) and most probably because I had fished to that fish more than once, and had been unsuccessful. One of my frequent fly fishing partners on the Henry's Fork called my behavior (sitting and watching a fish) the result of being stubborn. Well, I prefer to think of it as curiosity.

Early on, I was never much of a guy to sit still when I had a fly rod in my hand...just the opposite. It all began to change when I met and became friends with Rene' Harrop back in the late '70's. If the name is not familiar, you have not been paying much attention...I digress. Almost every day I would load up the gear and drive to the river...often to the famed "Railroad Ranch" section (now called Harriman State Park). It was common to see a few people sitting on the bank even when there were fish rising. Initially, I thought this "bank sitting" behavior to be a little strange. It did not take very long for me to realize that one of the most regular "bank sitters" was Rene" Harrop and his beautiful wife Bonnie often sitting in his white pickup with the blue bug deflector above the grill. I also became friends and fished with Mike Lawson, Andre' Puyans and a handful of others who either were or became "gurus" in the fly fishing world. It took some time, but I realized that they all had one thing in common...yuup..."bank sitting" and if they were not sitting, they were walking very slowly and their eyes were always on the river. Well, as I have always tried to learn from these "masters", I would simply do what they did when I was with them. It was only then that I began to understand "bank sitting". They were not there to catch fish...they were almost always intent on catching a fish...to be more specific a very particular selective fish. Most often, they were also big fish but they all had the same thing in common...they were all selective in their feeding behavior and seemed to defy many of the things I had read about and had, for the most part, accepted as fact. Until you really stop, sit and watch, these fish are often impossible to spot and most of us would simply walk right by and never be the wiser. If you already know where one of these fish is as I often did, "bank sitting" is all the more important. If you could not hook that fish yesterday or the day before, what makes you think you can just jump in the water and hook it today? Same water, same time of day, same hatch...so what is different?

Moral of the story... sit on the bank and really think about what is different today. Maybe a black beetle on 6X?

Perhaps more of this story will be told down the road...