Our Man In Canada
February 21st, 2005

Fly Fishing Northern Canada
Part 3, Opportunists
By Mike Skoczen

I was seated in the middle of the canoe as we motored upstream looking for signs of a good holding spot. We had fished downstream the day before without a tremendous amount of luck yet we were determined to figure these fish out. My eyes scanned the water near the riverbank for anything that would indicate a likely holding spot.

After trying a few "fishy" looking spots we arrived at one of the areas that we did have a little luck the night before. This was also one of the few spots on the river that allowed the three of us to get out of the canoe and spread out a little. Some other day I'll tell you about how much of a pain it is for three fly-fishermen to fish from a two-seat canoe and why we were doing it in the first place. We jumped out of the canoe, tied it off and spread out to make our first casts.

Mark and Rick were the first to land fish. This little section of river looked even more promising than I thought it would be. I also was able to land a fish or two, all on subsurface flies. After catching a few fish I was ready to try something a little different and I had just the fly. I took out a deer hair mouse that I had tied up for pike fishing and knotted it onto the end of my leader. I figured that a mouse had to fall into this river on occasion.

I made my first cast and I immediately began swimming the mouse through the current when it hit the water. Nothing! No matter, it is bad luck to catch a fish with the first cast after tying on a new fly (so I tell myself every time it happens). Let's try a second cast. Nothing! Now a third cast. Nothing! A pattern was forming.

After a few more uneventful casts my confidence was starting to get shaken as my "friends" told me that I was just wasting time and to get out of their way if I wasn't going to seriously fish the water in front of me. I was about to listen to them when I made one more cast (the "one more cast" theory).

I saw a dark shape rocket off the riverbed towards the mouse as I was swimming it through the current. The fish hit the mouse so hard that it came out of the water as it took the fly. "Fish On!" I set the hook and the fight was on. These wild fish were very strong. I fought the fish a few seconds longer than I had to as I informed Mark and Rick that I knew all along the mouse would work. After it became obvious to me that they were not interested in helping me land the fish, I stopped gloating and brought the fish to hand. A beautiful 18 inch long Brook Trout had taken the mouse. It was the first to fall for the deer hair mouse but it definitely wasn't the last.

After landing the fish I decided to celebrate. I broke out my flask filled with Scotch (The Glenlivet - 12 year old for those keeping score) and one of the Cuban cigars we bought for the trip (they're legal in Canada!). What a way to celebrate success.

To be continued... ~ ms

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