Many years ago I was fly fishing on the Duchesne River with my Dad, beginning at the bridge that crosses the river on Highway 208 about five miles south of Tabiona. It was hopper season about the first week of September.
Dad had gone downstream swinging a streamer and I went upstream fishing a Joe’s hopper. It was wild! The fish went crazy as the big bug floated by their feeding stations. Small ones, big ones, they all seemed to relish this floating fly.
I was wading in the current of this big pool when I noticed a very large trout tumbling towards me from upstream. He was being swept downstream by the current. I grabbed my net, which was tied to my belt, and tried to capture the fish but it was too big to fit in the net. So I dropped my fishing net and fly rod and reached into the water with my arms and scooped it up onto the shore. Wow! It was a big brown trout flopping lazily on the gravel. I tried to fit the fish in my creel, but it was just too big so a got a forked stick and slid it though the fish’s gills so I could carry it like my Dad had taught me . (This was before Dad and I had gone to catch-and-release fishing.)
I headed back downstream to show my prize catch to my father. I had to be careful to keep the tail of the fish from dragging as I tried to carry it. It was that big. Dad watched me stumbling towards him with this huge trout and he remarked, “That’s a dandy…got to be five or six pounds. How did you land it? I know it’s too big for your net.”
“I hooked it on a hopper and fought it in a big pool until it was tired…then I slid it up on the bank,” I replied, containing my excitement. This was the biggest fish I had ever caught. But I didn’t catch it with a fly. I caught it with my own two hands.
Dad looked at the fish and asked, “Did you take it on a hopper? There’s a leader hanging out of its mouth and it looks it took some bait.” That was it. I couldn’t continue my charade. I explained to Dad how I had caught this big fish with my bare hands. I couldn’t lie to my father who had taught me everything about fly fishing.
“I’m proud of you for owning up about the fish,” said Dad. “It had probably been hooked earlier by a bait fisherman upstream and was on its last legs…or fins.”
And that was how I learned that a hopper can actually help you tell the truth.