(this is a continuation of the previous post)
This was one fish that I wanted to land! I thought of how big the fish was when it jumped out of the water and that I had a truly barbless hook, but a big hook and I kept the line tight. Thank goodness I'd gone to 4X tippet. The fish ran and I was able to reel it in, then it ran again, and again. I wanted to get this one to the net so I took my time. But I don't like to keep a fish on the line for too long so I gently brought it in as quick as I could. I was so thankful Rick was the one netting it. I trust him more than anyone. I brought the fish close to the shoreline and he kept the net in the water inching closer to the fish from the tail. He quietly crept up on the fish and scooped it up! My adrenalin was racing! This was a huge fish! A fat fish! A beautiful brown trout!
The fisherman with the big camera was there and had photographed me while I was fighting the fish. And he'd gotten a couple shots of Rick netting the fish. He introduced himself as Phil Savoie and said he was a photographer. What? Thoughts were running through my head about getting some photos of this fish on our point and shoot Olympus and here was a photographer! What are the odds? Were the stars aligned? I'd finally hit a jackpot.
Phil the photographer 'set the stage' and encouraged me on how to hold onto the big fish. And it took me a while to get a grip on it. Usually I can get my hands around the fish, but this one was big and I didn't want to miss a few photos like this. Phil had said a couple times "What a hog! And you got it on a dry fly!" which seemed to increase my stress of getting the photos. I was anxious to get some good photos. Phil said to use one hand to hold the tail and the other hand to lift the front of the fish, but I couldn't get my left hand around the tail section of the fish! We all wanted to quickly get the fish back to the water so I tried and tried and finally we got some photos. Phil's camera was one of those powerful DSLR, a Canon I believe, and it took multiple shots at a time. Click, click, click, click, over and over. Unbelievable I kept thinking. What are the chances that a professional photographer would be fishing next to me when I landed such an amazing fish?!?! And such a nice guy!
We finished with the "photo session" and made sure the fish was healthy and ready to return to the currents. After we released the fish we started talking with Phil and asked how we could get copies of the photos he'd taken. He told us he would return in a few days and bring us a disc with the images. I'm still thinking "UNBELIEVABLE!" I asked how we could every repay him and he said "How about 3 PMD's, 3 crane flies and we'll call it even?" I opened my fly box and gladly gave him flies. Phil gave us a business card and told us he'd worked with National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Planet Earth, and many other networks and organizations. I had my Droid phone with me and as I was 'recovering' I looked him up on the Internet. He has an amazing website at http://www.philsavoie.com/ where you can see many of the projects and films that he's accomplished. The next day he emailed me a few of the photos and said he'd return to fish with us in a couple days.
Phil had come from Bozeman to fish the river and although he wasn't working he'd brought along some of his photo equipment. In between fishing he was busy taking photos of bugs. Phil is also a biologist and was as interested in the bugs as he was in fishing. In fact, I think the bugs held his attention more than the fish. Rick volunteered to collect insects as Phil fished. As Phil packed up his equipment he gave me a preview of the 380 photos he'd taken of me and the big brown. I couldn't stop thinking "Amazing luck!"
When Phil returned a few days later he brought the disc with about 60 photos and we gave him a small box of more flies. He asked that if I post his photos on the blog that I give him photo credit since that's how he makes his living. I'm more than happy to do so. He told us about a huge fish he'd caught years ago while in England and that someone had taken photos of the record-breaking fish for him. He even showed us a photo of his very large trout. He said I was a nice lady and he was happy to help me. I guess all the years of me giving away flies, helping others to fish, and taking other people's picture was coming full-circle. For the rest of the morning Phil fished and I spotted rising fish for him. Rick again collected insects and Phil told us about some of his on-going projects and future plans. I'm still thanking my lucky stars that he decided to fish next to me.
It's what some would call the fish of a lifetime. I like to think I have a lot of lifetime left and more memorable fish to catch. Tight lines Phil! Hope to see you on the river again.
(all photos in this blog post are courtesy of Phil Savoie, © 2010 Phil Savoie www.philsavoie.com)