On the Fly: Fishing, not catching | VailDaily.com

On the Fly: Fishing, not catching

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Vail CO, Colorado

BASALT, Colorado ” The long spring runoff finally has given way to rivers that are low enough to wade, assuming you’re built like Charles Barkley.

If you’re built like me, you’re holding your breath and clinging to the willows overhanging the bank as you pick your way between pockets of slower water, where plenty of trout remain pushed up against the river’s edge. I take my life in my hands for just one reason ” the fishing is hot. When it’s not, I go anyway, but it’s a lot harder to explain why.

After what felt like an interminable runoff, while my flyrod gathered dust in a corner, I ventured out to the finally clearing Roaring Fork River a couple of weekends back and had one of the most spectacular after-noons of my life on that river.

I returned to the scene Sunday to see if it was a fluke. It was.

That’s not to say the fish weren’t biting, I just wasn’t catching. At least not when I meant to.

The trout ignored my elk-hair caddis fly ” the key to my earlier success ” until early afternoon, when they inexplicably got hungry. But where I could do no wrong on my earlier outing, I could do no right this time.

I watched a rainbow trout literally launch himself onto a rock in the process of hauling in dinner. Natural-ly, I cast that way and managed to snag the rock not once, but twice. The second time, I had to wade up to dislodge the fly, scaring off my prey in the process.

I didn’t actually catch a fish until I gingerly was trying to pluck my way around dead tree branches stabbing outward from the bank, my unattended line bouncing in the torrent behind me. When I felt the fly get caught on something I gave the rod an impatient yank, only to find a large brown pulling back. I lost it of course, with no room to play the fish or even hold the rod upright.

I caught my second fish the same way, except that time, I lost both the fly and the fish, but only after the trout made a spectacular leap from the water.

I can only conclude that perfect presentation of the fly is somewhat overrated.

That’s pretty much how the day went, occasionally catching fish when I least expected to and missing plenty when I was theoretically ready and waiting to set the hook.

In other words, it was great.


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