I’ve fallen for this trap before: gearing up to fish after seeing a single rise, only to have it turn out to be another “one-and-done” riser. So I just stood there and waited. Another rise. And another. Not in rapid succession, but enough to convince me to string up the rod. Besides, I could tell it was a good fish, in a very challenging situation. Well worth the effort.
Fishing is all about process. I knew from experience that there was a very good chance that I would spook this fish before ever making a cast, so I decided to take my time with the approach, and soak up the simple joy that is watching a good fish rise on a sunny afternoon. I took the long way down the bank, making sure to steer clear of the poison ivy and the electric fence that keeps the cows out of the river. I found a good approach angle with a nice clear back cast. A fat muskrat swam down to investigate what I was up to, and my fish stopped rising. So I waited.
While I waited, I lengthened my leader and added a long piece of tippet. The only bugs on the water were the dregs of the morning hatch and spinner fall. My gut told me to go with “trusty rusty”. A rusty spinner... when you don’t know what they are eating, or when all else fails.
The fish came up again. Closer this time. In the high sun and clear water I could clearly see the entire fish, hovering a foot under the surface in the slow, gin-clear flow. Oh, man. Tricky. Exciting. I had a feeling this was going to be one cast for the championship. Either A+ or F. Another rise in full view and I pulled line off my reel.
I was feeling good as I made that first cast, until an unexpected gust of breeze came out of nowhere. Oh, no. The leader landed in a heap in the floating vegetation that divided me from the fish. The cast was so bad that the fish didn’t even know it had been attempted! Ha! I retrieved the fly, cleaned the algae from the hook, regained my composure, and went for it again.
The fly landed with a light plop about 5 feet upstream of the fish. Right on line. It floated 2 feet and then fell through the surface tension, out of sight to me, but not the trout. The fish pushed forward and up in a subtle, smooth, and confident stroke, and ate the fly. Fish on!
A short run and a jump and the fly pulled free. Silence and stillness reclaimed the river. I looked at my watch to discover that 40 minutes had past since I saw the first rise. Two casts would be plenty for today. I reeled up and drove home, grinning to myself the whole way.
Take Care and Fish On,