September 6th, 1999
Learn Something New!

by Craig Thorp

Craig Thorp in the Black Hills

As you know , in June, a number of us attended the Fly Anglers Online Fish-In in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to go. To meet and fish with the people that I have been talking to online made for a very enjoyable week.

The day began with a bunch of fly fishers all meeting for breakfast and coming to the consensus of opinion that almost every time we go fishing, if we pay attention, we will learn something. Everyone enjoyed telling their rendition of a lesson that they had learned.

After we finished breakfast we all went to Spring Creek for a few hours. Then Al Campbell took Parnelli and myself up to Castle Creek. At Castle Creek the three of us got our fishing suits on. Waders, boots, vests, hats and rain coats.

A considerable amount of time was spent by the group of us comparing accessories. Al had a particularly nice gadget that was used to make a nail knot and was eager to demonstrate it when I took out a new leader. It turned out to be a very impressive piece of equipment. Quite a bit of ohh's and ahh's followed the demonstration and I thought Al may be getting a little self-conscious. So without missing a lick he hands my line back to me, looks at me and makes notice of my magnifier.

My visual impairment has caused me to use one of those magnifiers that clip onto the brim of the cap, and quite a bit of time was spent talking about and comparing our collective failing eyesight's and how it compares to the length of our arms. The conversation started to wane, not that we ran out of things to talk about but it was time to go fishing.

The three of us walked abreast up the fire road which borders the stream. Castle Creek is a western stream so it does have the trees and shrubs growing along side it, that I am used to. This view gave Al the opportunity to point out, as we were walking along, some of the stream improvements that he and other fly fishers had done to the stream. He told us about how they had actually built bends into the stream to slow the flow and increase habitat. I was very impressed.

Parnelli dropped back to either fish a spot or do some type of equipment adjustment. It took probably 50 to 75 yards of walking before we noticed. Standing along side the stream taking in the beauty of the Black Hills and the stream, we waited. This is an area of the world where it is easy to get lost in the moment and become almost unaware of what is going on around you.

I noticed some trout feeding at or near the surface and Al encouraged me to go fish a bit while we waited for Parnelli. I moved down toward the stream and began to cast. Just as I was going to lay the line on the water I felt a fly or mosquito was biting my chin, so I laid the line down and brushed the insect away. A number of drifts in this particular area proved to be fruitless. The guys were now past me and it was my turn to catch up.

Although my two companions never did get that far ahead of me it was a long time before I saw them again.

As I was walking up Castle Creek I saw the unmistakable flash of a nymphing trout. Visually marking the spot I employed as much stealth as I could and eagerly moved down to the side of the stream. Unhooking the fly from its mount and pulling out some fly line, I began to cast.

Focused on the quarry I measured the line. Dropping it just behind the riffle and ahead of the pool so the nymph has time to sink to the proper level. Leaning forward, my focus is on the strike indicator. Suddenly my nose smells the scent of burning hair and my upper lip senses pain.

My God, my magnifier is setting my mustache on fire!

After this minor crisis was over, I moved my magnifier up under the brim of my cap and moved on. The excitement was probably too much for the fish and definitely too much for me.

It does prove though that if you pay attention you will learn something almost every time you go fishing. ~ Craig Thorp

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