Saturday, December 10, 2011

Opportunity knocks...

So I made the decision to leave work early yesterday to do some fishing. It turned out to be a good decision. It was around 2pm when I finally got in the water. Air temps were in the low 20's and the water temp was, well, freezing. 
Getting bumped by ice flows while I side step down the river, I see another fisherman starting a small campfire. Did I mention it was cold out? As I move my way down the run, I get my first good bump...hmmm, there's fish in here. I repeat the cast, savor the dangle, nothing. I take two steps, cast my fly down and across, swing the fly across the current. I wait and wait some more. Nothing. This process repeats itself as I grow weary of my chances at catching a fish today. I can feel my legs and feet going numb. I forgot my gloves in the truck. Damn, why did I do this?
Towards the bottom of the run, I finally hook up. An explosive strike to my fly is followed by violent thrashing on the surface of the water. My rod comes alive and the fight is on. As I reel her in, my heart races and I forget the cold for those few  moments. That is of course, until my fly line stops and I cannot reel any further. My guides were iced so heavily that I could not bring the fish to hand! As I struggle to break off whatever ice I can, I feel the line go limp while I struggle to free it. My heart sinks, I ready myself for disappointment. As I begin to reel in the now freed slack line I feel tension, she's still there! The fight is back on. As I pull her towards the bank, I reach into the frigid water and wrap my hand around the base of her tail. I remove her from the water momentarily to snap a photo and say thanks, before releasing her back into the river. She wasn't very photogenic, I was rushing to get a shot and release her in a timely manner, but she was a beauty of a brown trout. Her skin glowed with a purple, and green iridescence over a silver speckled body. She had already dropped all of her eggs, and was on the prowl, looking for a meal. Bright with color and full of life, I watched her as she swam away. I remembered why I had endured these freezing temperatures and ridiculous conditions in the first place.
But, there is a greater lesson within this story. 

Rule number 1: You wont catch fish sitting on your couch
Rule number 2: Respect the dangle.
Part of building confidence is success, with more success we gain confidence. Now I know darn well there are fish in the run I am swinging my fly across. (Not only because I have fished it a thousand times or so, but just ahead of me I see a gear chucker, huck a glob of spawn into this runs vicinity, hook, land and release a Steelhead within 3 casts.) So what do I do? KEEP FISHING. I work my fly through the run, allowing each swing to finish, settling directly below me. I let it dangle. Then, I let it dangle some more. With my success on the river, I have learned a few things. (See rule number 2) So many of my fish have come when my fly is directly below me and I am just about to strip my line in, lift my fly out of the water and start the whole process over. 
When the temps are as cold as they are now, and were yesterday, you have to control your fly, fish it deep and move it slowly across the current. Two handed rods are an extremely effective tool for this.

Remember, you can swing flies in the cold and you can catch fish doing so. Persistence pays off. Don't let the cold numb you so badly you forget your fundamentals and go home with a zero. Trust me, I was preparing myself for it, scolding myself for leaving work early to get skunked, but then I referred to rule number 1.

No comments:

Post a Comment