July 11th, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Just Another Day
By Chris Morrison, (tyflier)

It was one of those days when catching took a backseat to fishing. The sun was shining, a warm breeze was blowing through, and at least I was out there. I had been standing waist deep in the cool alpine lake since about 6:00 am, and hadn't caught a thing. That's OK. I was learning. I was learning how to use the wind to my advantage. And I was learning how to avoid piercing my right ear when the wind picked up. Besides, casting on this clear, cool, crystal blue lake beats sitting in front of the tube sipping coffee, anyhow, right?

Looking at my watch, I realized it was almost 11:00 am. Time to pack it in and head home. The fish weren't biting, the kids probably missed me, and I hadn't even told my wife I was heading out.

"I'm probably gonna catch hell for it, but it's worth it," I thought. Even not catching anything, it was worth it to be alone in this beautiful lake for a few hours.

Walking back in towards shore, I passed by a very likely looking hold. "What the heck. One more cast won't hurt." So, out comes the rod. I tie on a #22 Royal Coachman and head back into the water.

Now, I know a Royal Coachman doesn't actually look like any real bug. Shouldn't matter, because there isn't anything hatching, anyway. And I know that nobody ever takes a substantial trout from this lake on a dry fly. I've heard it too many times before, "You need to git yerself a big fat Woolly Bugger to get the big'uns from this lake," or "A deep nymph will pull the big boys offa the bottom fer ya, but that dry fly ain't gonna net ya nuthin," but I never really paid any attention to what 'they' said before, so why should I start now?

So on goes the Coachman and in the water I go. My first 'last cast' gets caught in the wind and lands way off base. "Well, that just won't do," I think to myself as I pull in the slack for another cast. My second 'last cast' catches the right earlobe perfectly. "Thought I figured out how to avoid that. Good thing it's barbless." Oh well, that won't do either. One more last cast.

"This is it. You gotta get home for a shower before work, so this is the definite, no more, last time, last cast."

I feel the loop form behind and the rod tip load. Swing forward and feel the tip load. Watch that beautiful loop form in front me. Once more back for a little more distance...perfect. Now forward with a nice, soft and subtle presentation ...That's it. A perfect cast. Wind and all, this one lands right where I want it to. Right in the middle of the deepest part of the hole, and just the other side of a visible rock. Now wait. Just a bit. Couple of little twitches to give it some life. That's it. Now patience.

Then I see Him coming. I see his mouth opening up...patience. Don't get anxious, wait for the bite...wait. He just barely breaks the surface and sips that tiny Coachman. He's HUGE! I set the hook, and pray. "I'm fishing a 1wt.! There's NO WAY my 7X tippet will hold!"

Let him run. Out to the backing, my reel screaming in protest. He dives deeper into the lake. My patience pays off and he slows down. Ever so gently, I bring him closer to me. Closer and closer, inch by inch. "I can't believe my tippet is holding this monster." Than, he sees me and is off again! Out to the backing one more time. Dive! Dive! "Don't fight him, play him. He's too big, he'll get tired."

And he does. Slowly again, I bring this monster from the deep closer and closer. He sees me again, but he doesn't have any heart left. One or two flicks of the tail is all he can muster. He's too tired. He gives up.

I get the beast in the net, and the moment tension is released, my tippet falls apart. The hook, just barely in his upper lip, is bent so far out of shape, it is almost straight. The tippet, well it no longer exists. It is simply a mound of chewed and shredded line. No more knot, no more strength. One more run and I would have lost him, for sure.

But none of that matters. He's in the net, and he's mine. A beautiful 4 pound rainbow. He's got all his fins and the coloration of a wild trout. He just might be. After all, he hit the dry fly, knowing that Woolly Bugger's and Copper Johns aren't a real food source. He just might be...

Walking away from the lake, with this one prize I've decided to harvest, I can hear the "old timer's" now. "What'd ya take him on? Woolly Bugger?" "What size tippet, 3X?" But I just smile. "Size 22 Royal Coachman. Came out of the hole like one of those monsters in the old Godzilla movies." They don't believe me. They can see my 1 wt., yet they still don't believe me.

But I don't care. I know it's true. And the fight that this beautiful creature gave will live on forever, burned into my memory like my first day of school. Or the last big fall before learning how to ride a bike. An experience like this is once in a lifetime. A trout like this is once in a lifetime. A day like this is once in a lifetime, and I will never forget it. ~ CM


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