Fishing with the Dugans
Perhaps it was recognition of a shared obsession and attitude but I’d wanted to fish Jim and Brenda Dugan for about as long as I’d known them. Jim, when he is in town for their regular visits, is regular as clockwork arriving around the time the doors open for a morning coffee, and a yarn while allowing Brenda some extra sleep.
Jim is a gear head, with a love for fine toys, a serious student of the intricacies of fly fishing and tying, but wrapping it all in a serious sense of fun. If we pondered it together I think we probably both agree this is just a game for big kids. So when Jim and Brenda’ name was drawn in the Marlene Hada Benefit I knew it was going to be a fun day. The Dugan’s won two night’s accomodation at Rim Shoal’s Resort, and a day on the water with Marc Poulos and another with myself. Tuesday last week was the appointed day. Now I knew these two had fished the White a long time, and scored plenty of big fish, so I was a little twitchy about making sure they had a good time.
But Jim was at pains to put me at ease saying they knew the good and the bad, and just wanted to have fun.
Turned out we had a blast. Originally I’d wanted to fish Rim where I’d being doing well but a 40-boat party coming through would have created somewhat of a circus so we shifted venue to the Dam in grey, foggy and chilly conditions.
We were into fish early which taught me my first lesson about these two. Brenda giggles a lot when she is catching fish, she sighs when a fishless drift goes by. Second point is she is one of those who has a knack of getting the biggest fish.
“Its the reason I married her, so I could see some big fish coming into the boat,” was Jim’s oft repeated claim. Did I mention its obvious these two really enjoy each other’s company too.
We scored some nice fish, including that 18″ rainbow up above _Next time I’ll get Jim to hold the fish and I’ll take the photo as it doesn’t do it justice but they wanted my face in it for some reason _ but things started to slow down mid-morning as we worked downstream trying to find some more willing participants in our fun and games. We picked up a few fish along Cane Island but none of the big browns we were looking for.
We ducked behind an island Island for lunch to evade the wind and pull a couple of fish amidst ducking treelimbs, most of the time. All of us have fished long enough to be able to laugh at the all to human foibles when there are lots of trees, fish and fly lines. Even the chore of rerigging two rods can be entertaining in such company.
So it was back to the Dam to look for the late bite, which was decent if not spectacular, Brenda landing another nice ‘bow and the dark fish above. But on one drift Jim picked up a fish tight to the bank in a fast current, the stacatto beat of the rod tip, and gentle bend indicating to both of us a fish of no great size.
As we slid downstream the bend deepened, and I started to ask if the fish had grown, when it went upstream hard, the fast current made the boat react slower than any of us except the fish wanted and it was gone leaving us shaking our heads. Was it a big brown slow to wake to the sting of the hook, or perhaps a small rainbow, devoured by a bigger trout or even a walleye. I don’t think Jim or I will forget that for a long time.
Sometime great memories and great days aren’t always about the fish you did catch, but the company and the one that got away can hold richer memories. I hope we can do it again.