June 21st, 2004

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

An Hours Worth?
By Adam Booth, Gambier, Ohio

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 myself.

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 frustrated.

"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

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