It was 6 am and I was sitting in my car outside of his
house in the dark waiting patiently. I was not supposed
to meet him until 7 am and we would then begin our road
trip to do some stillwater fishing. However, I was too
anxious. The night before I got little sleep, I tossed
and turned with anxiety about my fishing trip.
I was going to go flyfishing with my mentor, Gary 'POP'
Ghoul. A gentleman whom I would classify as one of the
greatest stillwater and all-around fly fisherman today,
next to my grandfather of course.
We were on our way to Rock Creek Lake in Northern California.
It is a terrific fishery nestled in a mixed forest of
pines, cedars and oaks. The lake is deep, with lots of
visible bottom and weed beds. There are downed trees
and shrubs along much of the shoreline that provide
cover for insects and trophy trout. The lake harbors
both brown and rainbow trout, with stories of browns
being caught up to 28" and rainbows up to 27."
Needless to say, I was pumped! As we got closer to our
destination, I began to get butterflies. I felt like a
kid in a candy store. Though we were twenty miles away
from the lake, I could smell the fish. The anxiety was
there and I was shaking. My excitement overwhelmed me.
I am 29 years old and have been flyfishing since I was
10 and it always feels like the first time for me. I
hope that I never lose that feeling.
We arrived at our destination around 4 pm after fishing
another private lake nearby. First thing we do is pump
up our tubes and head for the lake. I cannot even remember
if we put any gear in the cabin. Oh well, all I know is
I wanted to fish.
The lake was beautiful. The water was clear and we could
see large trophy trout cruising the surface and feeding on
the abundance of midges. There was a small callabaetis
hatch. I tied on an emerger and watched a fish sip it on
the first cast but I was not paying attention and missed
The weather turned on us and it began to rain but this
did not deter the fish at all. I put on a sparkle dun and
BAM! Fish on. With the lake being 40 ft deep, the first
place the fish went was straight down. Ten minutes later
I pulled in a nice 22" rainbow. This was just the beginning
of my weekend.
We headed back up to the cabin and began strategizing for
the next day. I could not get that feeling out of my system,
that tugging feeling from a trophy trout. All through dinner
I had butterflies and kept replaying in my mind the fish
The second day, the fish were cruising again but did not
seem to take any imitations. I put on a leech pattern and
it was the ticket. Throughout that day I probably caught
six fish all over 20". That night we gathered in the cabin
and I watched 'POP' tie a sparkle dun. I tied a few after
him and set them aside for tomorrow.
We told each other stories and he told me how a fish
sometimes reacts to a dry fly. He spoke of times when the
fish will actually come up to your dry and balance the fly
on its nose. He then began to go into more detail about how
a fish reacts in still water. I was again PUMPED! I could
not wait to go back out tomorrow.
The next day I was out early. Fish again were midging but
they were not taking any imitations. I threw on my leech pattern
and BANG, fish on!
I could have stayed with that pattern all day and been successful
but I was there to not only "CATCH" but to "FISH". I was
determined to figure out what the fish were doing. As the day
passed I caught a few more, but I noticed one cruiser that was
quite big. I tied on a small sparkle dun that I had tied the night
before and then just sat back and observed.
As I watched the fish rise and sip every 20 seconds, I noticed the
pattern that it was following. I softly cast my fly directly in it's
path and watched the fish rise to my fly.
I was amazed when I saw what the fish did next. Just like 'POP'
had said the night before, the fish literally pushed the fly out of
the water with its nose and balanced it!
It took everything I had to not attempt to set the hook. I was shaking
so badly in anticipation that the fish would engulf my fly.
"Patience Robert," I said to myself. "Just wait." My heart was going
100 miles an hour as I watched this fish play with and observe my fly.
Then he let go and turned. I almost cried but remembered to twitch
the fly. As soon as I twitched the fly, the fish took.
It charged right towards my float tube.
As I tried to retrieve the slack, it became airborne.
What a site it was. Again, the fish jumped, this time
straight towards my tube!
I swear I thought he was going to land in it. Now I was
in for a ride of my life. Fishing only 6x I knew I was in for
a long one.
The fish then went directly down. I was tired, my arm hurt.
Everytime I had the fish up close he would take off and get
into my backing.
'POP' was watching in amusement and cheering me on.
After a 15-minute fight, I finally landed a beautiful 26" rainbow.
What a feeling of content. I was in heaven. I took the fly out
of its mouth and softly set the fish in the water.
As I held its tail in attempting to revive it, I thanked God for
His wonderful creation. The fish built up strength and dashed
out of my hand.
That was it. I had just experienced a catch of a lifetime.
That weekend was a memorable experience. Not because of the
size of fish that were caught, but because of the challenge set
before me to adapt to the fish's environment.
Fly fishing to me is more than just catching. It is the pursuit that
becomes a man-to-fish challenge. A personal quest to
entice a trophy trout to take your imitation.
In addition, to share that moment with one whom you admire
very much is icing on top of the cake. I thank my grandfather
for passing the love for the sport down to me.
It is a sport that is not just for recreation, but has become a part
of my soul, mind and spirit. I hope that you to will be able to
experience flyfishing to this level too.
Remember it is not about "CATCHING" but about the "FISHING."
Tight lines, if you would like information on Rock Creek Lake you can
email me. ~ Robert Lee