I’ve never been one to give up on a fish. If it’s being stubborn, I’ll sit on a fish and change flies and work it until I get a take. I guess you can always go find another fish to work but in the end, you’ll end up engaged with a fish, so why not do it with the fish your with rather than another? And when we fight fish, never give up. Sometimes the fight is anti-climactic as once the take has happened the fish is going to come straight to hand. But sometimes the hook up is the only given and the fight is the main event, throwing uncertainty in the mix.
Such was the case a couple weeks back as we walked a small stream. As usual we split the river, AJ on the true right, me true left (“true” being the direction of water flow, aka downstream left or right). Working this way on small to medium-sized water together engages us both all day long and we can banter about with calling out what we see, hacking on each other, helping each other, whatever the moment calls for. We try to fish water we can do this on so we are fishing together.
As we walked upstream AJ spotted a tail on the edge of the current, tailout of a deeper pocket in the small stream. She wasn’t sure where it was holding as it was heavy wind, glare, and a lot of structure. She had a go and by protecting the edge (not going all in on any cast and working the edge of the water she thought the fish was in) was able to work a few casts and got the hook up. The fight went about as planned, the trout weaving in and out of the tussocks, undercuts, and around the little tussock island at the tail out of the run. Finally, it was coming to net in the shallows when the fly simply popped out of its mouth. AJ did her usual lost fish repertoire of painting the sky blue, but I watched where the nice brown was headed. If browns are one thing, they are extremely predictable. they almost always go to rest in a catatonic state after you release them or if they get off your line while fighting.
This one was no different. It tucked in to the tussock island at the tailout. I was a few feet away and decided to take a couple of steps and sweep a foot under. the brown did one loop out from the tussock but circled back and tucked back in.
Fair enough… I took off my back pack and tossed it to AJ and reached under the tussock. Lo and behold I felt a rubbery bit under the tussock – the tail. Joy! I grabbed the peduncle, lifted the fish into the net, turned, gave AJ a wink… and the net with her fish in it. We took a quick photo and slid the brown back into the water. This time it nudged into the tussocks in the main run, a little deeper.
We each landed 4 or 5 nice fish that day. But I couldn’t help but suggest to AJ that the ticks on my side of the ledger might have an extra data point. ‘It’s not like you landed that fish, sweetie.”