THE LAST FLY
I had thrown everything in my box at the fish to my front. So I stood knee-deep in the stream as my youngest daughter looked on. It was Father’s Day, and she had agreed to accompany me for a couple hours on the water. I had promised her we would catch fish, but I was failing badly in the task at hand. Summer flows and clear water were kicking my proverbial butt quite handily. I could see fish flashing, and had a few chasses, but nothing to speak of. My first effort after the known producers for the particular water I was on was to go deep and tie on a streamer.
“A bugger ought to ought to do the trick.” Nope. A tandem rig with a heavy dredge fly proved no better as well. Maybe if I can get things down deep enough with a big nymph, while dragging along a #20 soft hackle? No such luck. They were on to me.
It’s at these times that I tend to notice my casting begin to suffer. I tangle in my net, or my forceps maybe catch some brush behind me; the normal frustrated klutz of a fly fisherman mode. And right on queue, he showed up. For the next 20 minutes I was “that guy”. At the peak of this period of frustration, while tying on a tandem rig using a bead head of miniscule size, I dropped the little fly in the water. UGH! I blamed it on that danged fluorocarbon that truly does disappear; particularly when one is wearing bifocals. Looking down at my feet I could see the little gold bead shining back at me, but didn’t have the strength emotionally to bend down and pick it up. The gesture I afforded it was impolite to the fish and normally only utilized for rude drivers using their horns at unnecessary times. Not one of my prouder moments, but in all honesty, I did feel the same way towards that little bead-head nymph as I do those drivers most times. Fortunately, my daughter did not catch the gesture, but I am sure as a junior in college, it would not be a groundbreaking event. None-the-less I think I did hear a slight chuckle from across the stream, now that I think about it.
It was at that point, my lowest fly fishing point that I snapped back to reality. I steadied myself like Rocky in the 13th round. Well not really steadied, I really just kicked my ball cap back a bit and stared at my fly box, and then the next box, and the next. As deep entomological thoughts ran through my mind, as it does for any seasoned fly fisherman in my position, I contemplated the possible nymph they were targeting. Then, asked myself “What in Sam Hill are these SOB’s eating?” Not too deep mind you, but I did say it while staring at a box full of caddis and mayfly nymphs. That has to carry some piscatorial weight right?
Then I saw it, i In the corner of my box, a size 16 Apricot blood-dot McFly Foam egg. A sucker spawn pattern! Not really the time of year for it, but it was the only thing I had not tried yet. Switching to a single fly rig, and adding a BB shot about 18 inches up, it took 3 casts before the indicator dipped and I set the hook on a large fish; a very large fish, and a fun fish to fight with a spectator. Close to a full 20 minutes later, both the fish and I were tired. The fish came to hand for a few pics from the far bank and a 26 inch rainbow slid from my hands as the evening came to a close. It was a great moment on the water and on a special day. The type of moment that tends to be a solitary one more often than not, but this time I didn’t mind sharing.