Readers Cast


Neil M. Travis - July 18, 2011

Sysadmin Note
Part 2 can be found here

"Why don't you come back this evening around 7 and we can go out and see if we can fool a few fish. Tell your folks that I will bring you home after we get done fishing but it may be after dark."

I was at Joe's place at least a half hour early just to make certain that he didn't leave without me. Joe was waiting on the porch when I walked up.

"I think that these hipper waders should fit you," he said.

The waders looked new and I didn't find out until later that Joe had made a special trip into town that afternoon to buy them. We loaded our gear in Joe's car and drove a few miles upstream to a small parking lot hidden back in the trees. Waders on and fly rod in hand Joe and I headed for the stream. After a short walk through the Alders we stepped out on the edge of a big pool. Joe walked toward the head of the pool and settled down on a big log. I sat down next to him but I wondered why we didn't just start fishing.

"This is the hard part for most fishermen but it's the most important thing that any fisherman can do."

"What's that, sitting on a log?"

"No," Joe laughed. "Watching, taking time to see what's happening before we start beating the water to a froth. How would we know what fly to use or what the fish are doing unless we take time to see what they are eating? A little time spent sitting still is never time wasted."

So we sat watching the water. I wasn't certain what I was looking for but I was certain that Joe did. After we had sat there for a few minutes I began to see a few insects fluttering over the surface of the water. As I watched they became more and more numerous and when one landed on Joe's waders he picked it up and held it out for me to see.

"This is a caddis fly. Kind of looks like a moth but it hatches from the stream and trout love them."

I looked at the fly that Joe was holding between his thumb and forefinger and couldn't believe that any respectable fish would possibly be interested in such a small bug. Actually the caddis that Joe was holding in his hand was a large one, about a size 14, but at the time it seemed real small to me.

"We're going to catch fish on that tiny fly?"

Joe chuckled. "If we're skillful enough we will catch a lot of fish on an imitation of this small fly."

Joe took a box out of the vest that he was wearing and when he opened it I stared in amazement as the contents. I had never actually seen an artificial fly and Joe's box was packed full of them. He picked out a couple of them and placed them in my hand. Joe closed the box and put it back in his vest. Taking the flies from my hand he proceeded to show me how to tie the fly on the end of my leader.

"This is a clinch knot," Joe said. "You need to practice this knot so that you can tie it without thinking about it. There are some other knots that you will need to learn but for now this is the most important one."

Once the fly was secured on my leader Joe tied the other one on his leader. From his vest he took out a small red tin and pop off the lid. Inside was something that looked like the lard my mother used to make pie crusts.

"This is Mucilin. We use it to make these flies float."

He rubbed his finger around on the top of the Mucilin and then worked kind of rubbed it around on the fly.

"Don't need to use too much of this stuff, in fact, too much will make a mess out of the fly."

With my fly attached to my leader and properly waterproofed with Mucilin Joe opened his fly box and took out another fly like the one that was on my leader and affixed it to his leader. After he prepared it with a careful application of Mucilin he settled back down on the log and continued to look at the stream. I wonder what he was waiting for but it didn't take long for me to find out. As we sat watching the water I saw a splash and then another one. Soon there were splashes everywhere.

"Those are trout that are attempting to catch those caddis flies. Now you need to pick out one of those fish and cast your fly out there just above where you see the splash, and if you get it right you just might fool him into thinking your fly is a real caddis fly. Watch me and I will see if I can show you how it's done."

Joe eased off the log and waded a short distance upstream. He pulled some fly line off his reel and made a couple false casts and then dropped his fly just above where I had seen a fish make several splashes. His fly settled on the water a foot or so above where I saw the last splash and it had only floated a short distance before it disappeared in a splash and Joe lifted his rod and he had the fish hooked.

What transpired over the next couple minutes is still etched in my memory just like it was the other day. The trout was a nice rainbow and he cartwheeled over the surface of the water, and I can still hear the high pitched squeal of Joe's reel as the fish raced up and down the pool. As exciting as it was for me I remember how cool Joe was. He had a big smile on his face and although that fish thought it was in control there was no question that Joe was controlling the entire situation. The fish rushed up stream and Joe lowered his rod and pressured the fish from the opposite side and when he turned Joe moved his rod the other way constantly keeping the fish off balance. When it jumped he lowered the rod tip so, as he explained later, that the fish would not land on a taut leader. Under the unrelenting pressure Joe gradually took up his fly line on his reel and when the fish was quite close he reached around for the net that hung on a clip on the back of his vest and with one deft movement he scooped the trout up. There in the mesh of Joe's net was the most beautiful fish that I had ever seen.

"This here is a rainbow trout. There are a fair number of them in this part of this stream."

Joe never removed the fish from the water. He tucked his rod tucked under his arm and reached down and slipped the fly out of the fishes jaw.

"Boy, he sure is a big one," I said.

"How big do you think he is?"

"Wow, I don't know. At least a couple feet!"

Joe laughed. He laid his rod down on the bank and, still keeping the trout in the water he took a tape measure out of his vest and handed it to me.

"Measure him and let's see how close you are."

Taking the tape measure I pulled out the tape and held the tip on the fish's nose and stretched it down to the tip of his tail. Sixteen inches.

"Fish usually get smaller when you actually measure them. Now let's let this fellow get back out there and get something more to eat."

Joe lowered the edge of his net and the fish shot out and quickly disappeared. I wanted to ask Joe why he had let it go since my dad and I always kept all the fish we caught on the lake, but before I could say anything Joe asked me if I wanted to try to catch one. Naturally I forgot about my question as I picked up my fly rod.

Sysadmin Note
Part 4 can be found here

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