Sometimes I wonder whether it's worth the trip.
Getting all my gear and driving the car down to
the river and then walking the mile to the good
holes seems like a task if I know I can't fish
for long. Jess needed the car to go teach a
music lesson and I hadn't had any dinner yet, so
I decided we'd eat and hang out for a while, then
I'd drop her off for the lesson on my way to the
trail, go fish for an hour and pick her back up.
I heard that there was rain coming before heading
out. I wondered if it was worth getting caught
in the rain for only an hours worth of casts, but
it had been a long day inside for me. Besides, I
told myself, if it storms the river could be blown
for a while. I sometimes like to tell myself that
the fish know this too and they'll be trying to
sneak in a quick meal before it hits.
Walking to my spot seemed extremely slow, maybe
because I sometimes make the trip by bike, but
maybe just because there's something extremely
strange to me about walking on a paved trail. The
steps don't seem as alive or adventurous as their
brothers in the dirt paths surrounded by the woods.
To pass the time I tried to string my fly rod, which
on a 9ft. rod always works well until you reach the
end of your arm span and have to put it on the ground
to finish. I sometimes laugh to myself as joggers
and cyclists pass me while doing this. It must be
great for them to see a guy gearing up a fly rod
200 feet from the water on a paved recreation trail.
Undoubtedly that's less enjoyable than the insipid
look on my face as I carefully take inventory of flies
while walking. Sometimes the rod shifts under my arm,
and drifts across the trail completing the picture of
an eccentric creating a recreational hazard.
There were more exchanges than usual that night,
maybe because the others who were out were beginning
to feel the weather change and they too were thinking
that maybe they shouldn't have ventured out themselves.
Or maybe because my odd ambling has become more familiar
to them. Late in summer, the brush in the clearing
that I use to get to the water grows thick, so its
often easier to slip down a muddy bank than risk
scratching for days by walking the easier path to
the water. For some reason I didn't fall on my way
down that time.
While walking I had tied on some of the new Clouser
swimming nymphs that I had tied, in hopes of finding
something that would be a good pattern for the larger
smallmouth and rock bass in the hole. I made my normal
upstream casts in the riffle, mostly to keep the fly
and line out of my way as I worked my way upstream to
the holes. Maybe I keep casting there because some
part of me hopes there'll be a fish there someday
or maybe it's just that its too hard for me to resist
casting while in such a beautiful place. For some
reason, being there in that living water seems to
be half of the experience, casting is another 49%
of it. As I pick up the line, I sense that the
casting is the clarity, when I resynchronize with
Sometimes the fish are the biggest percentage. I
always feel better if I've been able to land a few
nice fish by figuring out what the fish are looking
for in the limited time I have to fish. I've
noticed that this has become more difficult as
I fish the same stretch of river over and over.
They know many of my tricks and have grown more
weary of my old standards, but fishing the same
holes has greatly improved my skill as an angler.
On this evening though, I never made it to the
deeper holes. In an unusual sight, I noticed an
enormous carp tailing in a shallow riffle below
the pool. I had read a great deal about carp on
the fly, but had never been able to even fairly
hook one. This one was hungry and kicking around
medium sized rocks. It was a less than ideal
opportunity - I had attached a bright strike
indicator on the leader for dead drifting in
the pool, but there wasn't any time to remove
it for a spooky carp in shallow water. I decided
to cast anyway.
My first offering was far off the mark and the carp
ignored it. I slowly let the fly make its way back
to me. The second cast was very close to the
fishes nose and I was afraid that it would spook.
To my surprise, it instead moved up and covered
the fly. Instinctively I waited as long as possible
and then set the hook. The fish didn't respond at
first to the hookset and I was a little concerned.
Then, everything exploded. The fish ran upstream
well into my backing. It continued to run up and
down the river with me running to minimize the
distance and the possibility for the fish to wrap
the 4lb tippet around a snag. Time after time I
thought the fish was tired out, but when I would
bring it into the shallows to beach it the fish
would find a second wind. I realized that after
fighting the fish for 45 minutes that I needed to
go pick Jess up soon, so I started trying to really
tax the tippet, praying that for once there were no
errors in my connections. Finally after a full hour
of fighting the fish I was able to beach the 24" beauty
and remove the hook, which had started to open up.
As the fish swam away I realized that it was extremely
dark out - too dark for that time of night. A storm
was coming and it was a big one. I scrambled up the
bank and got on the trail. I ran as fast as I could
as I heard the muted rush of raindrops on leaves
perhaps 400 yards behind me. The sound of the rain
gained on me and rolled closer, bringing with it
strong winds. The rain caught up with me and began
to fall on me in the big drops that congregate in
the leaves of the trees. Somewhere behind me a
large tree limb let loose and fell. I ran faster
and the stitch in my side bit deeper below my rib
cage. As I got closer to the parking area I saw
Jess looking down the trail for me from near the car.
I heard her yell something to the effect of "you're
crazy" as we hurried into the car. She had walked
all the way down to meet me there and seemed a bit
"How was fishing?" She asked me.
"You're never gonna believe this..." I exclaimed.
I then began to recap the entire story of how I
only got in a couple of casts in over an hour of
fishing. As much as I love casting and regaining
a sense of balance, I fantasize as often about
the rush of just barely landing a fish and almost
being flattened by a thunderstorm. It turned out
to be a bad storm. We lost power in the evening,
and the river was unfishable for days. I'm always
glad I went. ~ Adam Booth