On the fly: Fishing, not catching
September 1, 2009
BASALT – I had the most memorable day of fishing, but not catching, of my life last weekend on the Fryingpan River.
I’d never seen anything like it, in the middle of the day, on that river, and I may never again. At least, I hope I don’t.
A friend and I, standing about 50 feet apart, each went through the better part of our fly boxes trying to find the fly that would entice the huge rainbows rolling up out of the water right in front of us.
It was both fascinating and infuriating. Sometimes, the fish win, but this was like losing a softball game by the 10-run rule in the fifth inning – when I let the 10th run score on a slow grounder between my feet after whiffing at the plate twice.
It’s one thing to catch nothing when the fish aren’t biting, it’s another to watch lunkers rolling upward like dolphins in the surf, slurping up something in gluttonous quantities while I vainly heave everything I can think of toward the swirling vortexes left in the wake of each rise.
Once, for just an instant, I had one on my line. I hadn’t come upon the secret fly, but perhaps the fish accidentally sucked in my fly along with whatever it was they were eating. It felt as though I’d hooked a freight train for just a second, then my line snapped and it was gone.
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Defeated and freezing, we finally waded up onto the shore. The iced beer, of the sorrows-drowning variety, wasn’t as cold as my feet.
I couldn’t wait to get home to see if I’d had better luck catching a fish in the lens of my camera than I had catching one on my line.
Shortly before we called it quits, I’d pulled a tiny camera from my pocket and snapped away. Though trout were everywhere, I could only aim at a section of water, push the button and hope a fish would rise into the frame at just the right moment. I got a lot of pictures of water.
I also caught one – half of a trout’s tail and its dorsal fin still breaking the surface as it slipped back into the current.
Take that, fish.