I have yet to find something that swims that I don’t enjoy fly fishing for. However I do have two favorites. Bass fishing, and Trout fishing.
Bass fishing is like the X-games of flyfishing. You heave some big hairy looking bass bug, something that resembles a frog, or a mouse, or maybe even a duckling. It is a gaudy looking thing – made of strange man made materials in colors not found in nature (or even in 56 crayon Crayola boxes). A splash when it lands is just fine and may even be preferred. Then you let your fly sit a while and see if anything happens. If it doesn’t you start twitchin’ and yankin’ it; causing a stir and alerting anything in the pond that something is happening over here. Suddenly a hole is torn in the surface of the water and your fly just isn’t there anymore. You set the hook forcefully and then horse the fish out into open water so he can’t wrap you up in the damn lilly pad stalks that he lurks in. When you finally get him played in, you stick your thumb in his mouth and lift him right out of the water, get your snap shot and then drop him back in.
Trout fishing is a little different. It starts by a quiet hike along a crystal clear cold water stream. Water so clear and icy that the smooth parts look more like an antique window, with its varying widths and distortions, than running water. You have already spent 30 minutes scanning the water and finding what bugs are floating in it that the fish may be feeding on. You are staying low and keeping your shadow off the water. Suddenly you notice, in a likely spot, tiny ripples where a fish is rising to eat tiny bugs off the surface. The fly you have chosen is made from all natural materials – muskrat fur, tiny feathers – and is so precise and perfectly hand tied that you feel like you are casting art. You can see the glass of scotch that sat on the desk in the fireplace lit room while the artist rendered this tiny replica of a real bug. The fly is tiny, no bigger than a pinky fingernail. It has to be, that is the size of the bugs. You gracefully arch your line into the air, careful not to let it spook the fish, and lay the fly on the water like a sleeping baby in the cradle. There can be no disturbance of the water. If there is, she will be gone. You mend your line so the fly floats as though it is unattached. Even though your leader and tippet line are thinner than a human hair, they can still affect the fly drift enough to scare her off, without diligent attention being paid. Perfectly free to drift like its emulated brethren. By the 7th perfect drift over the fish, without her so much as looking, you get nervous. You know if the fly is one shade of olive off, or if the body is slightly too chunky, or the fly is slightly too big, she will refuse it. But you can’t change now, it may be on the next drift that she takes. You put yet another perfect drift across her and this time she stirs, gliding – smooth as a ghost – to the surface and allowing the fly to come gently to her mouth, within centimeters. When she takes the fly it is with a sip so gentle it would break your heart. You bring her in thoughtfully and gently. No horsing her, yet not allowing her to play herself to exhaustion. When you get her to you, you cradle her gently in your hand, never taking her out of the water and as quickly as possible slip the hook from her mouth. You don’t release her until you are sure she is fully revived.
So I have been thinking about relationships…