Wayne Morris with his best ever fish on a fly rod _ all images Steve Dally
Call it fate, luck, or my personal preference karma, it doesn’t hurt when its rolling your way.
I’ve often jested that one can earn some good karma from the Fishing Gods _ at least from the middle seat of a drift boat it seems that being good to your family, friend and fellow fly fishers, being humble on the stream, or enduring, with good grace, the tough days will deliver one of those days you will remember for a lifetime.
Wayne Morris, from the Midsouth Fly Fishers, out of Memphis must have paid his dues, and then some. We donated a guide trip to the Midsouth Club to help one of their fundraisers. Wayne was the winning bidder, and booked his trip to co-incide with the Midsouth’s visit to Norfork Tailwater. At the time I was wondering why he hadn’t booked a more premium time of year, like our caddis season, or hopper time. As it turned out it was a great call on his part.
We decided to hit Norfork based on Wayne and his fishing buddy Luther’s desire for mixing wade and float fishing. The overnight rain faded leaving us with overcast skies, comfortably cool temperatures and some eager fish. Chad was putting in at Norfork with us with two fly fishers of his own, even when you’re working there’s something fun about sharing great fishing with a good friend. I rowed hard down into the resort pool to put some comfortable fishing distance between our boats, then put the guys to work
Wayne’s first was a feisty teener brown, and both he had Luthur were rolling along catching fish easily on our custom midge patterns. I don’t think we had hit Colonel’s Corner before the discussion had turned to finding a couple of brookies to complete 2 slams.
But while Luther was catching fish, proclaiming that afternoon he hadn’t ever caught so many fish, Wayne was on fire _ we figured he’d earnt the privilege of being a hot rod, little did we know what was coming.
Chad had hopped around us as we worked some slow water and was first into one of my favorite shoals, to give them some more time before we rowed through their wading, I rowed back upstream and across to fish a secondary seam off the main current. As I pushed on the sticks I saw a nice boil from a quality fish taking an emerger, right in the seam, so I lined up Wayne’s cast, and down went the indicator _ Fish ON.
It was a spot we’ve hooked and lost some serious fish in the past year, it seemed like we needed some karma on our side, so I was hopeful, as the fish fought deep and hard. One we had color it was obvious this was a good ‘un, and it took some patience before she slid into my Fishpond Nomad net _ I can tell you a 23.5” brown will fit in the small hoop.
She was in pre-spawning colors and gorgeous, but not dumping eggs as yet, so I felt more comfortable about grabbing some pictures, Wayne’s spandex sungloves gloves wet down before holding the fish. I got Wayne out of the boat, its easier to protect the fish, grabbed a few grip and grin’s and walked him through how to hold the fish and allow her to recover in her own time.
I think Wayne was struck with how calm she was in his soft grip, gills working, as she relaxed after the ordeal. He spent quite some time, able to take in those colors and the spot pattern, feeling her gather strength before gliding off.
He was pretty quiet back in the front chair, the faint smile of a main lost in thought. Wayne would say later this was the biggest fish he had caught on fly in fresh water or salt.
Days like this are just one of the myriad of reasons being a fly fishing guide on the White River system has to be the best gig in the world.
Thanks to Midsouth Fly Fishers, Wayne and Luthur for an awesome trip