February 21st, 2005
Fly Fishing Northern Canada
I was seated in the middle of the canoe
as we motored upstream looking for signs
of a good holding spot. We had fished
downstream the day before without a
tremendous amount of luck yet we were
determined to figure these fish out. My
eyes scanned the water near the riverbank
for anything that would indicate a likely
Part 3, Opportunists
By Mike Skoczen
After trying a few "fishy" looking spots we
arrived at one of the areas that we did have
a little luck the night before. This was
also one of the few spots on the river that
allowed the three of us to get out of the canoe
and spread out a little. Some other day I'll
tell you about how much of a pain it is for
three fly-fishermen to fish from a two-seat
canoe and why we were doing it in the first
place. We jumped out of the canoe, tied it
off and spread out to make our first casts.
Mark and Rick were the first to land fish.
This little section of river looked even more
promising than I thought it would be. I also
was able to land a fish or two, all on subsurface
flies. After catching a few fish I was ready
to try something a little different and I had
just the fly. I took out a deer hair mouse
that I had tied up for pike fishing and knotted
it onto the end of my leader. I figured that
a mouse had to fall into this river on occasion.
I made my first cast and I immediately began
swimming the mouse through the current when it
hit the water. Nothing! No matter, it is bad
luck to catch a fish with the first cast after
tying on a new fly (so I tell myself every time
it happens). Let's try a second cast. Nothing!
Now a third cast. Nothing! A pattern was forming.
After a few more uneventful casts my confidence
was starting to get shaken as my "friends" told
me that I was just wasting time and to get out
of their way if I wasn't going to seriously fish
the water in front of me. I was about to listen
to them when I made one more cast (the "one more
I saw a dark shape rocket off the riverbed towards
the mouse as I was swimming it through the current.
The fish hit the mouse so hard that it came out
of the water as it took the fly. "Fish On!"
I set the hook and the fight was on. These wild
fish were very strong. I fought the fish a few
seconds longer than I had to as I informed Mark
and Rick that I knew all along the mouse would
work. After it became obvious to me that they
were not interested in helping me land the fish,
I stopped gloating and brought the fish to hand.
A beautiful 18 inch long Brook Trout had taken
the mouse. It was the first to fall for the deer
hair mouse but it definitely wasn't the last.
After landing the fish I decided to celebrate.
I broke out my flask filled with Scotch (The
Glenlivet - 12 year old for those keeping score)
and one of the Cuban cigars we bought for the trip
(they're legal in Canada!). What a way to
To be continued... ~ ms
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