After a weekend of hockey in Missoula, I was too stiff and sore to get out of the car and do any wade fishing on the route back home. I did get out and take a peek at one of my favorite little streams, mostly to take a break from the highway. Laura and I could see some fish in a deep pool, but couldn't tell what they were. But, we soon identified them, when fish would leave the deep water sanctuary and scoot their way up stream, in just inches of water, into a smaller side channel. They were beautiful rainbows, doing their best to get upstream and spawn. Within minutes, I was back at the car, fly rod in hand.
The 'bows had a barrier upstream which wasn't man-made, but instead made by some crafty beavers. Below the dam, 30 or more trout were stacked in the small waterfall's eddies. Every few minutes, you could hear and see the commotion of a stubborn rainbow attempting to clear the 3' dam. It was an incredible sight. Laura tried to capture a leaping spawner on camera, which proved to be more difficult than anticipated. I walked downstream a bit, hoping to land one of the healthy fish. The fish refused both surface presentation and a variety of nymphs. I put on a big, flashy Zonker and had a fish chase it right away. I then lost a big male that came out of the water like a steelhead I had hooked years earlier in Canada. Finally, I landed a nice 19" male and released him into the water, to continue his mission. I decided that I best leave the creatures alone after just 20 minutes of fishing. Something didn't seem right, interrupting their calling to head upstream, their behavior like sailors on leave. One fish was enough. I felt like I had been fortunate enough to experience one of nature's great performances.