Okay…go ahead and admit it. You’ve been guilty of wishing for a small fish. Sure, we all hop in the water with visions of one of those grip and grin laviathans that will make us the envy of all our angling buddies. We picture the perfect hookset, the admirable fight, the headfirst guide into the net, a smattering of accolades from angls who saw the whole thing and were impressed by your skill.
Then the real world hits…
You’ve been fishing for four hours and haven’t got so much as a twitch. Nada. Nothing. It is around this time, when you can see the end of your trip in the distance, that you are just wanting to get the skunk off your back, just one fish to justify the trip, just one fish to put a bend in the rod; even if the fish is so small that the rod only bends a couple of inches from the tip. It is moments like that when you don’t really want to impress anyone, you just don’t want to be the poor schmuck who leaves without anything. This usually occurs when those around you are catching a few. Pride has a way of making us ruthless in our desire not to be odd man out.
Recently, I was on such a trip, in this exact set of circumstances. I was fishing with my ol’ buddy Jermz, who by the way is one of the most prolific anglers I have ever seen. I’ve even seen him catch fish literally right on top of his boot in six inches of water. Love the guy, but sometimes I just wish I’d see him get skunked.
To continue with the story…I got to the river at around six, full of the aforementioned thoughts of glory. He showed up about fifty yards down stream three hours later. I had yet to get a bump. Not fifteen minutes later and he has an impressive bend in his rod. So, in line with these modern times, I broke the anglers code and called him on my cell phone.
“Hey man!”, he says full of glee.
“What did you catch that one on?”
“Thats what I am using and haven’t caught any.”
So, with my tail between my legs, I wade downstream. He caught three more by the time I arrived.
Two hours at least pass and I reached the point where I was just hoping for a minnow. Then I notices a healthy Sulphur hatch. Of course, I had no Sulphurs. The only thing I had close in color was a size 14 Yellow Humpy. Not exactly matching the hatch.
Three or four unproductive casts, and then it happened. WHAM!!!! A trout that we both agreed would go t least 24 inches came roaring skyward with my fly in its jaw. I set the hook and the fight was on…for all of about five seconds. That beast snapped 5x tippet without slowing down. Never even got him turned. He felt the hook and just took off. I was left shaking and empty handed.
“My God that was a monster!” He says.
“I never had a chance.”
“He was so big he could hardle get airborne.”
In the next two hours, neither of us got another hit. Storms rolled in. The day was done.
No, I didn’t catch a single fish. I left with the skunk I rode in on. But that morning, I hooked a fish of impressive length and girth in full view of one of the most respected anglers in my circle of friends. If only for five seconds, I was on top of the world, and I had a story to tell. A story to tell with a witness. Sometimes that is enough. Even though the smell of fish was absent as I slid into my ride and headed home.