A Blue Winged Olive hovers and flutters next to River’s face for a moment, and he sees it. (River doesn’t miss much.) Tilting his head, he’s just about to lunge for the mayfly when a large raindrop knocks the hapless Olive from the air — more confusion in the life of a puppy. I chuckle, and River relaxes while I start to tell him a story . . .
Wild and wise trout demand from the angler a natural presentation of the fly. Trout are a difficult fish to fool. So the consistent fisherman learns to successfully drift flies that look like something the trout is used to eating — something that appears natural.
However, the most natural drift of the fly happens over a short portion of the drift. And usually, the angler who casts more often is more successful . . .
Mending is a bit of a lost art in fly fishing, and I meet fewer and fewer people with much skill for it. Remember to start with slack. Then keep your mends small and crisp. Mend like you mean it, and be willing to make mistakes. Have fun out there . . .
The pickup is one of the most overlooked aspects of the casts. And by learning to shoot line on the pickup, the options for delivering our flies with precision and with subtle variation are wide open . . .
The biggest misconception in nymphing is that our flies should bump along the bottom. Get it down where the trout are, they say. Bounce the nymph along the riverbed, because that’s the only way to catch trout. We’re told to feel the nymph tick, tick, tick across the rocks, and then set the hook when a trout eats. With apologies to all who have uttered these sentiments and given them useless ink, that is pure bullshit.
Here’s how and why to avoid the bottom, fish more effectively and catch more trout with a top down approach . . .
I swear I fish best when I’m alone. I can’t prove it without a witness, of course, but I guess I don’t care to verify it anyway . . . and that’s the point.
Fishing the mountains always granted me the serenity of simple thoughts, a soul laid bare to the open wilderness and a peace of mind. Then usually, that’s where I left it — somewhere alongside the rocks and flowing water . . .
Watching your streamer is fun. It’s educational, and it helps to dial in great action on the fly. But if you’re not careful, you’ll start moving the fly so you can see it instead of moving the fly to attract a trout . . .
Thirty minutes following the morning alarm, an hour-and-fifteen on the winding roads, ten under the hatch of the 4-Runner, and twenty more minutes hiking through a dawn drizzle that taps on the hood of your raincoat, the atmosphere feels soft here — and still. It’s cold for a fall morning. As you climb the hill through a stand of oaks, headed for the far valley, puffs of warm air escape your lungs and billow forward. You outpace your own breath. Even as progress slows with the steepening hill ahead, your breath trails behind. And you push forward through the dissipating fog of your own carbon dioxide.
“Keep walking, keep moving up the hill. Make it there before the sun crests,” you whisper to yourself. There’s no point in getting up at 4:30 if you can’t get in an hour of fishing before sunlight changes the game. At the top of the mountain, you pause, seemingly for the first time since the alarm clock — not to catch your breath but as a reminder that all of this is not a race. It’s an adventure. And a good wanderer stops to look around once in a while.