Posted: July 02, 2013
Author: Jack Shaw
In my former life as a fly-fishing guide, I would spend well over 150 days a year on the water in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. But since moving to the Alps 5 years ago, my trout-hunting has suffered. With different regulation of fishing waters here in Switzerland (put-and-take rather than catch-and-release), and a day’s license costing 30chf, it isn’t often worth the effort, comparatively. One exception to this was a fine day I spent a few years ago with Pascal Zeller of Upstream Flyfishing, on the upper Aare River, below the Grimsel Pass.
However, with an old guiding buddy coming over to visit, it was time to dust off the gear and find some fish in my home valley. Since the late 90’s, Tom Bie has been editor-in-chief at some of the finest ski and outdoor magazines in the world, and even started his own fishing magazine, The Drake. There is no question that this is the best journal out there that describes the flyfishing life in the way that only a fisherman can “get”. He is working on a feature about 5 guys he used to guide with back in Jackson Hole, WY in the glory days of the 90’s, and what they are up to now (one of which was me).
The first day of his visit, I introduced Tom to the joys of lift-served downhill mountain biking. Having never been on a full-suspension bike before, he settled in fine, exhibiting a form honed on Teton Pass around the same time as we were guiding together. After a couple of 5000’ singletrack descents through the alpine hameaus, pine forests, and tiny villages, he understood perfectly the allure of this new summer season passion for us.
But he was here to find a Swiss trout, so the following day, we hiked up 3 hours to Lac Louvie, which was freshly-melted out, and still just below the snowline. In an idyllic cirque pointed right at the Grand Combin massif, we reached the cabane, where the friendly guardian informed us that the fishing hadn’t turned on yet this summer. We bought a couple of tallboys and walked around the lake to an inlet stream, an obvious location for a dry-fly exploration. While rigging up, a small herd of Bouquetin (alpine Ibex) walked by above us, and we reminisced about days on the river gone by. A steady-rising fish in the tiny current caught our attention, and I gave Tom the first right of refusal. He wasted no time, laying a perfect presentation in the seam, hooking and landing a perky little rainbow.
We spent the rest of the afternoon laughing, remembering hilarious guide stories that we hadn’t thought about in years, and taking in the views. And for the first time in a great many years, the fish got the best of me. And I couldn’t have cared less.