Despite what you’ve read, fly fishing isn’t a perfect game of pitch & catch with trout. Incredibly seldom do you get an open cast with drift and the pop of a head taking that dry fly. It’s far more blue collar. If you aren’t wallowing in mud, crawling through brambles, holding a rock or tree to not fall off a cliff, or having to do some random act to try to reach a fish, you’re likely fly fishing with the Housewives on Wisteria Lane.
It’s once in a while that things go ‘just so’, and Amelia had one about a week ago.
We fished up a small stream that we’d had some success on further up and wanted to walk through the small gorge lower down. The first run and pool we came to was perfect. A shallow tailout and a head popped twice. We approached but there was no fish. We stepped forward and finally saw it on the inside flat below a large willow reaching out and through the water. It cycled up and down through the run a couple of times before Amelia was ready to have a go. It fed several times, including one smashing top take on the inside flats. None of us said it but we all were expecting a smashing top take on her sedge pattern. The first cast was short and thankfully the fish didn’t come downstream to take. The second cast was spot on to where the fish had smashed the surface of the inside flat. No response. Third cast… that one cast was the most beautiful thing I’d seen in fly fishing in some time. Gin clear water, a cast that laid out flat and straight, landing 4 feet above the brown, the drift and a good fish rising up in a sunspot to take the nymph just subsurface. The big, white mouth opening to take; the hook set; the ripping out of line.
Then things got quickly imperfect. That willow across the creek? Enter fish. Bugger. Amelia did her best but that fish was in there, locked. She kept the rod tip low and to the side, tip in the water. But it was wedged. I slid over and above the willow to try to scoot the fish out or to see if I had to dig for fish. As I got over I saw it wrapped on a submerged branch but it somehow rolled free and AJ pulled the fish out. Things got even less perfect as the dry was now in its anal fin.
As we all know, fish hooked sideways always fight harder, this one no exception. AJ did a good job and it finally came to net.
We were happy to get it in the net after all that and smiles abound from the 3 merry anglers!
As I turned to give AJ the fish in the net, it was gone, however. It was racing through the pool, heading home. That was when we realized our brand new net had a hole cut in it from the 2 days previous, bush bashing matagouri. But the fish was still on, somehow. Amelia fought it well and once again brought it to me. In the shallows, the fish was almost ready for netting again and I went to scoop it but with the line through the net I had to flip the net on top of the fish to keep it in place rather than scooping, as the leader kept me from that motion. That didn’t work either and the fish once again bolted. I apologized to AJ as I knew the fish must surely be gone with me likely snapping it off.
Amelia & Jack told me it was still on! Jack came up with the idea of the moment: to slide the line, rod, and reel through the hole in the net. With the fish no doubt caring for our predicament, we did so. We slide that net over the rod and past the reel. And we landed the damned fish. If I remember correctly it was 5.5 pounds. And a fit, gorgeous fish.
Such a perfect moment. 😉