Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When Giants Walked the Earth

I remember the first Trout that I brought to hand like it was yesterday. Up until that point I had done a lot of fishing but not a lot of catching. Well, catching trout that is. Sure I had slayed Bluegill and Bass, but trout were elusive mythical creatures. And now after all the ones that I have brought to hand, I still find them to be the prize of the kingdom of fish.

I usually fish alone for pleasure and scenery I enjoy the sounds of a river and in knowing that two billion years of wind, water and rock had all taken place for that one moment in time on that one spot of the river and that one fish.

The cast was smooth and subtle the streamer landed inches from the small horseshoe shaped waterfall and quickly sank below the surface. I began to strip the line slowly and steady, letting the fly drift naturally in the current with just the slightest of motion. Tug, the rod tip goes up and the hook is set.

The details of the fight have escaped me now. The landing however is as vivid today as it was that day. I had no net, I simply reached into the water slid my hand down the line and onto the fish. I remember how green it seemed and how the black dots stood out in the light. The belly was so silver and strip of red, absolutely brilliant. The hook was removed and the fish returned to the water suspended above my hand until it was ready to swim away.

A fisherman across from me simply shook his head as to say, “That was a keeper son and you let him go.” I smiled and walked back down the path that had brought me to this day and to the angler I would become.

- H.L.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Good Anglers are Versatile Anglers

We are halfway through our fishing season and what a strange one it has been so far. It seems as if I’m not firing on all cylinders. At first I thought maybe it was just the early season shakes, a bit of rust on the ole tackle box if you will. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve had some good days and caught some great fish, but geez.

I don’t seem to be fishing as smart as I usually do. For instance I generally carry 3 weights of rods with me for different weather and styles. This season I’ve just taken the short 4wt. So if we have a north wind and I the 4wt, well you guessed it. I get a fraction of the distance and about 5 feet from the fish. If I want to fish a heavy streamer I’m simply S.O.L.

My timing is off and I’m not talking about casting. I’m talking about heading to the water. It’s important to pay attention to the weather. One should fish in front of a weather pattern and on the light of the moon or between a new moon and a full moon. Don't fish with the river flowing at 25 times its normal strength. These are all things that I have ignored lately.

The other thing is entomology. I haven't paid much attention to what is going on in this department. I just figure they will hit whatever I sling at them. Not the case. Entomology on a river isn't that complicated, especially in the winter yet we never talk about it. If we spent half the time on entomology as we spend on casting and keep our line in the water where the fish are, we’d all catch more fish. Who gives a flying crap about the loop, just get the fly near the fish and watch your drag. Now don't crucify me just yet. There are times when presentation is essential, but we have to learn the art of balance. Don't put all your stock in one aspect of this sport or you will starve. The best anglers are versatile. You have to have the ability to change and adapt to the river and the whether. Become a hunter, think of yourself as a field marshal, use strategy and know the limits of your equipment.

What a sport and a humbling one at that, just when you get cocky and lazy the weather changes then the river changes and the behavior of the trout change. You either grow as an angler or you don’t catch fish. I learn something new about this sport and myself after each and every trip. I rise and fall, push and pull myself to do better, to be better.

- H.L.