May 5th 2023
With my 4 day work week I have declared that Fly Fish Fridays are now in full effect. After a very long, cold and wet winter/spring the weather has finally broke and the fish have started looking up. I try to get on the water at least 1 day a week during the “good” part of the year.
Last Friday the weather was looking fantastic but our local streams were still running high and fast with runoff. Water clarity was still fantastic and knowing that things would be tough I headed up into the mountains. Some days I just need to get out and I don’t really care if conditions are perfect or not. There are days where I just need the rhythmic casting of a tenkara rod, methodically making fly first casts into likely looking water. Hiking around, getting exercise and breathing fresh air alone and away from all the madness.
While scouting around looking for access that wouldn’t wash me away I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. Part of my brain rejected the image as outlandish and the other part thought “that was a big fuckin trout”. I stopped and watched and sure enough it was the latter. This high up on this particular stream I did not expect to see a trout of this size and rising to bugs nonetheless. I stopped and watched for awhile as it cruised around this pool, coming up to feed with no real pattern. There was a variety of bugs out. I tied on a generic futsu kebab with brown dubbed body and a few turns of grizzly. I crouched low and made my way to the water summoning as much stealth as possible. At 6’7″ and 270lbs I don’t exactly radiate stealth. Once in position I sat and waited until I saw that big ol’head breaking surface again. After a few casts the fish came and with full confidence opened its mouth to inhale my fly. I did what I do best and blew it, pulling the fly straight out of its mouth. Fortunately I don’t think it felt the hook but it must have seen my flail and it sulked back into the pool. Again doing my best ninja impersonation I retreated from the bank to hide out of sight in the trees. For about 20 minutes I sat and waited until it resumed feeding.
Ultimately I repeated this process for 2 hours. Sneaking down to the current and casting until I put the fish down, retreating, waiting, sneaking. I switched flies a few times, more so for myself knowing that the fish wouldn’t really care. Finally after the 2 hours I tied on my trusty cream colored Takayama style kebabari and went down to the waters edge on last time. I had lengthened my tippet to around 5 foot and let the kebab sink just a bit deeper. After a few casts I felt a pull, set the hook and this big fish was now on the end of my line. I felt a few very strong pulls, saw the big flash of its side and as quickly as it started it ended. My hook flying back at me and the trout dashing off in the other direction.
I knew that was it. After a pretty amazing match the trout won on this day. Something strange had happened that I didn’t at first recognize. I knew i’d been beaten, I knew the trout would not come back that day but I was smiling. As I walked back to my car I felt an intense feeling of fulfillment. That was the most fun I’ve had in years NOT catching a fish. I realized that after 30 years of fishing I have finally reached that place where nothing really matters. Catching or not, the full experience of a day on the water, the gratitude of being healthy enough to spend a day kicking around the mountains is what counts. I am also at a point where I no longer just want to catch fish, I want to catch them a certain way. Unweighted traditional Japanese wet flies on long willowy rods with no reel and light lines. As time goes on I lose interest in other techniques. I nymphed for many many years, I know how effective it is. I know at any time I could rig up for nymphing and turn into a fish vacuum. Thats just not what I want anymore. Tradtional tenkara techniques are very meditative. Not every fish in the river will be convinced but the it forces me to focus on so much more and I can truly disconnect from the world. Days like this where I catch no fish keep me engaged, keep me curious and wanting more.
2 thoughts on “A great day getting skunked”
As always … great pictures … and great looking kebari.
Thanks Darrell! I’m trying to update the page a bit more frequently this year. Thanks for looking and I hope your getting out on the water.