Monday, March 19, 2012

Don't Even Think About It

No hope is what we give ourselves every time, at least if we have sound control of our egos (Culvert readers are proper adults who shun Angling Expert Status and thus are comfortable in this bracket). But they fuck us up, these trout streams, and we tend to lie, you see. Even when we say we're Just Going for a Few Casts, what we're predisposed to want and thus expect is rising trout/stripers/carp, and big ones too. I have found (I am now convinced) that when I actually believe - in a very, very pure way - that the fishing/weather will suck, it's as likely to be really, really good.    

This was Saturday. I was to be kayak fishing with the boys on the Sabbath, not on Saturday (the first sign that the fishing would be really, really good, on Saturday); so even when the chance arose, I didn't know where I'd go and thus gave no advance warning for my small brain to start cultivating a switch-back scenario where expectations of greatness are longed for in a played down, English-Jonny-doth-lie-to-himself, sort of way. So I threw a half-arsed text to Zakur about the recent performance of Stream X, sure in the knowledge that I'd be following his lead assuredly into the valley of Other Things that are not fishing. It was entirely unexpected, then, when I met young Z at 2pm, primed with short fly rods, cigars and The Flask.

But we had no hope because this was all impossibly ad hoc, see. And this is almost certainly why there were caddis and stoneflies and midges everywhere. And trout risings, pretty much, everywhere. The stream hadn't been stocked. These weren't stockies. (I don't know if this matters, but when you first find a slew of rising fish and realize what you might be in for, and then realize they're wild, it just gets that bit better.) The stream is big enough to be tough, but small enough to be personable and familiar. Medium sized, basically. And running a perfect height of finest London Dry Gin, this day that does not exist. No other anglers were visible, and I was in shirt-sleeves, but of course.

The first fish was a beautiful little brown trout.  

The reel conveys to the reader that English Jonny is a fly fisherman, not a worm hunter.

Bugs were everywhere, but I had a cigar.
Orange trout backs were porpoising to stone flies in clear, deep water; the scenario that is so lovely we think it cliched only because we lie that it can never happen when we want it so badly. Anyway, it's pretty much the finest thing I will ever see. Two large trout working a log jam midstream. My cast is some kind of nymph leading to a caddis dry on the dropper (yes, I know that's all wrong, but I'd rigged for nymphs and lazily clipped off the tail nymph when confronted with rises). At Z's insistence, I knelt on the cobble at the pool's head, and when the caddis went under, it was eaten by this: 

This is a beautiful creature, and quite possibly the nicest looking specimen I've wrestled with.
Up-date: Here I am playing that fish. It was rising next to the jam on the right. I'm grateful that this picture captures the bend in my little 7' 4wt, which is smaller than my ears.
The next up-stream riffle and bend was alive with rising brown trout, and by now I'm remembering - through a haze of muddy fumblings with stripers and carp - just how supremely satisfying it is to be privy to such a thing. Again Z played the perfect host, all but letting me have best vantage from above the riffle, where three casts later, this delightful trout is running hard to the foot of the pool, giving me rare pause to actually think about the drag on my trout reel.

Best Trout River In The world.
We fished on, walking the banks, poking hither and yon. Zakur missed a few takes (he clearly needs to adopt my new Dry Fly Below Nymph Rig; article coming soon!) and I fished in that half-arsed way you do when you've had plenty of cream already. It was a superb day. 

Medium sized. Zakur knows this stream like his study.

Oh, and Sunday's trip went just like we planned it.

My back is in spasm. No fish did we catch.



  1. Those are some great browns. Nicely done, gents.

  2. I revisited that pool after you departed and managed two more strikes and not a trout to the hand. I am eagerly awaiting the nymph-dry article as my technique is sorely in need of improvement.

    1. My dear fellow, all these years and I didn't know you had just one hand!

  3. Well, the other hand has other uses.

  4. Like holding the flask. Or a camera. Or a fly rod.

    1. Thank you for this important clarity [though all the same, I'll revise my greeting next we meet].

  5. Quality shit right there...Nice fish , a good smoke , a tip off the old flask and a day spent on the water with good company. You're living right in my book.

    1. Thanks. I suppose 3 from 4 ain't bad [I'm here all week].

  6. great stuff guys. beauty of a fish for sure. Thanks for sharing.