July 29th, 2002

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

'Ol One Eye
By Paul Dieter (pdieter)

I met an amazing fish on my vacation recently. I was fishing Cheesman canyon, which is becoming my home away from home water. The water was high so I was focusing on fishing some of the holding water closer to the bank and working back downstream. Looking down from the trail I could see several fish holding in a nice big eddy behind a huge boulder.

With great stealth I brought my all too large figure down the hill hugging the boulder and slipped into the water near the top of the eddy (as in silent not stumbled). As I moved into a position I could cast from I managed to spook a few of the closer fish. I was loaded with a brass assed emerger and a SJ worm dropper with some pinch on weight and a white yarn and O ring indicator... but I'm pretty sure I was still fly fishing. I decided to let the lower end of the eddy calm down a bit so I flipped this rig up next to the boulder and let it drift into the seam. Instantly the reel started to scream and instantly it stopped and now I was loaded with SQUAT... and a white yarn and O ring indicator.

Tying on two new flies really gave the eddy a chance to get used to my presence and I started drifting the new rig through the bottom of the eddy and back up towards my legs. The fish were unimpressed. Then a respectable sized bow slid right past me and held on the bottom not 4 feet from my feet. So I gave him a look at my impressive hardware set up; but he was so close the indicator was suspended about 10 inches above the water. As I drifted to him he came off of his holding position and casually yet purposefully came to the surface and then came out of the water and got a hold of my indicator 10 inches free of the water. He let go of it and returned to his lie. This is not the first time I have seen totally new fish behavior in these waters and I'm sure it won't be the last. I gave him another drift but this time I left the indicator on the water and again he calmly came up and hit it. Well I tell ya I went to college and I've read lots of fine books on fishing so I reached deep into my vault of analytical thought and decided it was time to put on a size 12 stimulator with a big white wing...genius huh.

So I cut off and stowed the halibut rig and tied on a stimi I refer to as the blind man stimi; with a wing of antelope rump, suitable for fishing on a moonless night in a deep anyon with sunglasses on. First drift and he came right up and slammed it we had a good fight with several leaps and one trip out into the big water; and I got him to the net. He was about 16 inches and I felt it was a fish worthy of taking coup. So I set my camera down on the bank and took the IR remote. The barbless stimi came out easily and I was getting positioned for the photo op when I noticed leader in his gill plate still. Well I must have wrapped my line on him when I was getting the fly out. So I grabbed the leader and freed it from the gill plate and noticed it ooked like about the 0x section. Odd I thought and looked over at my rod and line and saw my fly sitting right there next to the bank leader and all; so I returned my attention to the fish and leader. Following the line I discovered it went straight down and disappeared into his gullet. So I snipped it off at his lips at least reducing the amount he would have to eat.

Here we go ready for the picture; as I get prepared to lift him for the camera I notice that his left eye socket is empty and healed over. So being the ever sensitive and compassionate person I am; I turned him around so he could see the camera for the picture. Then off he swam...'ol one eye laughing in the face of hooking mortality rates.

A week later I was fishing with someone I met on VFS and I came to the same eddy and slipped in once again and sight fished to a few shadows in the deep. A few drifts into it a fish broke from his hold and hit my SJ Worm. We had a nice battle and I got him to the net. Oh yea you bet it's 'ol one eye. I took a shot of him in the net on his bad side, just to satisfy my guilt for hiding his affliction the last time and sent him on his way. The guy keeps holding in a back eddy with his eyeless side towards the bank... some fish never learn! Now a fish like this ain't pretty and it's very hard to wax poetically about him; but he sure gave me lots of food for thought. Thoughts of hooking/handling mortality rates, blue ribbon fishing pressure, fishing with my father in the past (he too is blind now) and the possibility that the department of tourism stocked him there just so us visitors would have a chance at a fish.

I enjoy the tranquility of rivers and the discipline of fly fishing as an art form; but above all else I love the chaos. It's the truest representation of life as a whole. ~ Paul Dieter


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