I am an information junkie. When I get interested in something, I devour as much as I can to learn about the intricacies of whatever the subject might be. I had spent several days scowering the internet on everything i could about fly fishing. I watched videos of Joan Wulff and Lefty Kreh as they showed the basic mechanics of the cast. I would sit at my desk with a thick highlighter and practice ten and two, ten and two.
So, returning from the debacle at the fly shop, I strung up my rod and went outside to practice. The one thing I remember is hearing that awful crack each time I came forward with my cast. My research had informed me that unless I carried a suitcase of flies to the river with me, I needed to fix that issue. I slowed down my ten and two and finally reached the point that I could lay down a solid ten feet of line in front of me without issue. By nightfall I felt okay with my cast much in the same way a teenage boy feels okay around a girl that he knows is way out of his league. He likes it, he enjoys it, but in the back of his mind he knows that once she sees through his charm to the large zit on the end of his nose, the whole gig is up.
I guess in retrospect, it was a blessing that we were fishing from a boat. I had fished area lakes in a boat many times so I kinda know the score. This also meant that I didn’t have to buy waders, but I had seen enough about fly fishing to know that I had to have a vest to hold my gear. Downstairs, in a bag of old yard sale stuff, I found a cheap khaki hunting vest that would have looked good on Marlin Perkins or Jack Hannah, but me? Not so much. Of course I had nothing to put in it but a plastic cup of Pheasant Tails and a three pack of leaders. Minimalism at its finest.
Saturday morning. The big day had arrived. I was up and gone before daybreak. The boat ramp that was our rendezvous point was about forty minutes away from the house and as I drove I tried to run through what I had read. I was actually getting nervous! Not about the fishing part of it, I had been catching fish my whole life. I was nervous about how I was catching them. I hate being labeled a greenhorn.
Its funny how odd things linger in your memory. The first thing I noticed when I reached the boat ramp and stepped out of my ride is how much colder it was right at the river, and I thought to myself that the water would have to warm up a bunch before the fish would feed. Shows you how much I knew.
Neither my buddy nor I are small boys. Our collective weight would bring top dollar at a cattle auction, so when he showed up with our watercraft I began to get worried. The “boat” was a hard plastic kayak kinda thing that was small and light enough for him to load in the back of his truck, and when we shoved off and headed upstream it did not escape my attention that we were mere inches from taking on water, yet remarkably it moved our middle aged spreads across the surface quite well.
We rowed upstream for several minutes through a thin wisp of fog that hovered inches above the water. Occasionally I would see a ring of a fish on the surface but other than their interruption the river was smooth as glass. I was amazed at how quiet everything became as we headed toward my date with destiny.
When we stopped rowing and set the boat free, I cast and fixed my gaze on the orange stick on foam indicator. I really didn’t know what to expect; then it happened. I have no real recollection of the hookset, or the fight, all I remember is that the indicator went under and then I was holding a 12″ brown. I was amazed at how smooth and cold it was, and how this was the prettiest fish I had ever seen.
“Meet your mistress.”, my buddy said with a twinkle in his eye.
Another boat, a real honest to God boat with room and a trolling motor came downstream to us. I knew the two guys from highschool and after a few pleasantries it was suggested that I get in with them so I could stand up and cast. That is when things started to get interesting.