Monday, July 19, 2021

"God Save the Queen"

Two and a half days into a cross country road trip and I had yet to string up a rod. About halfway, I texted an old mentor of mine to see if he was close by. After a cup of coffee and some catching up, he dropped me a pin on my intended route. He simply said, "you'll figure it out". Five hours later, I pulled down a long gravel road to a parking lot that read, "no overnight camping," and promptly parked the van next to it. It was nearing 11 p.m. and I passed out. In the morning, I landed a personal best brown trout on a dry fly. If anyone had ever told me that it would happen where it did, I never would have believed them. Not in a million years...

An angler pulling into the parking lot woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. If I was 16, 18, 20, or even 24 years old, I probably would have gotten up out of competitiveness and tried to beat him onto the water. Over the years, experience has taught me that it doesn't matter. A few hours later, I walked up to a spot the man was fishing and caught three trout between 16-20 inches. All beautiful browns that I sight fished with a small midge, Little Lehigh style. It was a small preview of what was to come. 

I moved upriver and came upon a large piece of soft water that was gin clear. I could make out every brown trout suspended over the weed beds. I texted my friend, "New Zealand shit," before catching another fine brown. I literally couldn't believe it and went to a nearby parking lot to confirm that I was allowed to be fishing at this location. There weren't any signs. I caught another trout and texted again, "are you sure I'm allowed to fish here"? Apparently, it is 100% public but that didn't stop me from shaking my head. 

The moment came after I called it quits and was walking back to the van. I saw a tail wagging out of the corner of my eye. A large brown was feeding like a carp with his head in a weed bed. I stayed on the trail, which was about 20 ft. off the water and slightly elevated  The first thing I checked was my rig. The knot on my dry fly snapped on the first tug. No doubt from the abuse of the other trout. I re-tied and made two casts. Both were slightly off the shoulder of the brown as my intention was for him to eat the dropper. The large trout sensed the vibrations of my rig and did what the smart ones do, began meandering off into the distance. My third cast was a hail mary and I put my flies right on top of the brown. 

Immediately, the brown trout went vertical in the water column and engaged my dry fly. I was in disbelief. I literally had several seconds to think as his snake like body slithered to the surface in slow motion. The body language said everything. I knew he was going to eat. My mind went back to my college days when I'd watch the AEG Media boys do their thing in New Zealand. They would utter, "god save the queen," in order to delay their hook sets long enough for a big brown to clamp down on the fly. Thankfully, my hook set was pure and my small dry fly did not bend out. Twenty seven inches on a dry fly. Sight fished. I won't be topping that one for a long time...

Thanks Dan

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