This story took place on the lower South Fork of the Snake a couple years ago. It was late September and my love for being a river guide was slowly diminishing after months of being on the water nearly every day. Early in the morning, all of the guides show up at the lodge and wash their cars, fill their coolers with ice and generally just get stuff ready for the day. We normally depart the lodge with clients at 9am, but once in a while clients get really antsy and start bugging the guides to get moving a little faster. (We freaking hate that by the way). On this morning there was a large group of clients, about 6 or 9. They all wanted to float the same section of river, eat lunch together etc. This was no problem for me. It’s always nice to be in close proximity to other guides. This way we can share what flies are working best and whatnot, not to mention it just makes it more fun.
I was just pulling in to the lodge, was half sleeping and I saw 2 dudes with rather large piles of gear laying on the ground next to them. They were watching me drive by them similar to the way a dog would watch a piece of bacon waving in front of their face. I could tell by the large cooler they had sitting near them that they had at least 30 beers on ice (not to mention the 2 they had in their hands). If I recall, I think the words that came out of my mouth at that moment were “Mother F%@^(*”, followed by several more profanities. Carefully watching in my rear view mirror, sure enough—they had me in their sights. I popped out of the car with a lot nicer attitude than I had the previous moments inside of my vehicle.
They turned out to be really nice guys and the day was going good. Everyone was catching fish, being happy and drinking a ton of beer (that’s sometimes not a good thing on the river BTW). This group of guys had decided to “make things a little more interesting” and place bets on who could catch the most fish. Personally I hate when people do this, because it takes a lot of the fun out of the day (if they are overly serious about winningespecially). Either way, these guys all put $100 into a pot and the most and largest fish won a percentage.
At about 4pm, realizing that we still had a ton of river left to fish, I started moving downstream much faster than normal. We came across another boat full of my clients friends in one of the other guide boats. They were sitting on a pretty good riffle and once my dudes spotted them they started yelling profanities and making fun of each other. I rolled in a little closer so I could talk to the other guide. Normally I keep my distance, and tell clients not to cast anywhere near where other people are fishing. These guys were all friends, so I didn’t think too much about it. Before I knew it one of the guys in the other boat hooked a fish, a pretty big fish. The client in the front of my boat casts right over top of his line. I start telling him to get out of there, but by this point, the hand of fate had been set in motion. My guy lifts his rod to pull his flies out of the area, but he already had hooked his friends line. The fish was pulling hard and going downstream, all the while, my clients flies were sliding down the line inching closer to the other dudes fish. We were heading downstream, the fish was heading downstream and my clients flies had now slid all the way down the line and hooked the fish in the face. My drunk client, seemed like he knew what he was doing—he decided to set the hook. Perhaps it was instinct after feeling a couple head shakes from the 20″ brown, or perhaps he was just trying to sabotage his friends fishing. Either way, he had successfully broke the fish off of his friends line and had “taken over the fight”. I wasn’t sure whether to be upset or not, because all I could do is laugh. I laughed for several minutes during the remainder of the fight. We did land that fish