Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I don't really have a bucket list, but there is one thing I yearn to do before I do kick the bucket. I would like to learn the finesse of true fly fishing. I have this image of wading in the creek of a mountain meadow somewhere in the Sierras, gently laying my tantalizing fly on the waters over hungry rainbow trout. Now there is real sport in that.
Oh I've been fishing many times. As a kid my parents used to take me to June Lake when there was only a dirt road and we had to make our own camping spot. We hauled the water and took a trowel up the hill for lack of an outhouse. Now it's a city, but that is another story.
I remember learning how to catch my limit of large trout on Twin Lakes from an obvious expert. He was camped near our tent, and he saw my fishing persistence and my trifling results. Every day we would see his long string of huge trout as he packed them in his ice chest. He must have been doing something right. I guess he had compassion for my plight, and I was a nice thirteen year old boy, so he volunteered to take me out on the boat with him.
His tackle was unorthodox, and his bait was a bit different too. He used salmon egg clusters which he had sun dried, but only partially. When they were pasty but nimble they were ready. He broke them into quarter sized clusters. "Small hook, small fish. Big fish need a big hook." he insisted. Well, I was used to using a tiny hook, and only one salmon egg at a time. He used a fly pole and tapered fly line for tackle. Everyone else had fiberglass rods, conventional reels and nylon filament line. He would take his large hook and wrap it with one of these clusters, rolling it in his palms like mom forming a dough ball for cookies. There was a swivel and leader at the end of his fly line, but no sinkers. The weight of this salmon cluster was sufficient for his purpose.
We rowed out to a certain spot on the lake that he knew to be a "hole" where the big fish used to hang out. He would roll out a cast for several feet, and then let the bait slowly sink toward the lake bottom. Then, holding the pole upside down (the loops were looking down at the water), he would ever so slowly draw in the line a foot at a time and stop. After doing this twice with no results he pontificated, "There aren't any fish here today."
We moved to another favorite hole of his. He repeated his routine, only this time he got a strike. After a second strike, he jerked on the line and hooked a mammoth trout. "Okay, let down the anchor. The fish are here." he announced with proven authority. When I tried his method, even though I didn't execute with the same degree of finesse, I caught several large trout. It was amazing how I could actually feel the fish bumping my bait. Experience would tell the fisherman the difference between a bump and a bite. When it was a bona fide bite, he would jerk the line and hook the fish's mouth. I would like to try that again someday, but as long as I am dreaming I would make it genuine fly fishing for my fantasy.