It used to be I could go out to my favorite spot on the Clark’s Fork armed with my fishing pole and a few worms and, as a matter of pure luck, catch a few nice sized fish. Life was simple. I could stick a worm on the hook at the end of my line, throw it in the water and that was pretty much it.
A lot has changed since then. Mainly, I’ve taken up fly fishing. And, there’ll be no simple dropping the line off the side of the bridge anymore.
To up my game, I’ve even been taking a fly fishing class on Wednesday nights at Northwest College, where it’s not uncommon to engage in a full two-hour discussion mostly about bugs, and how to imitate them with very artful renditions that mostly don’t look anything like the real thing. And, to make things even more complicated, there are literally millions of variations or “patterns” as they call them. I literally have to carry an entomology book with me on my fishing trips anymore and I could easily spend as much time with my nose in the book as with my line in the water.
This past weekend I spent my first day out on the river as a “rookie” fly fisherperson this season. Armed with volumes of new information, hundreds of little flies neatly organized in little plastic boxes, a rod (not a pole), a reel (with strange looking line), a little jar for collecting bugs, a magnifying glass and my trusty bug book, I treated myself to a solo fishing excursion.
I spent the hour knee deep in mud gathering specimens and looking them up in my little book. It took hours but I’m pleased to report that I did identify “the hatch” that is going on in my own little piece of paradise and it is most definitely mayfly.
It wasn’t a quick process and I admit a few poor little nymphs did have to suffer for my cause, but I did determine with great precision exactly which flies to tie on to the end of my line. As I shuffled through my little boxes of flies, I was horrified to discover that I didn’t have anything with me to imitate the bugs I was finding. A matter that would be resolved later by ordering about $30 worth of flies on the Internet.
All was not lost; after all I did have my jar of bugs and a wonderful opportunity to practice my casting, which was not a real pretty sight, but fortunately I was the only one on the river. After an hour of untangling my line, I decided to visit a friend.
When asked to produce my “catch,” I proudly held up my jar of bugs.
“You know, you probably could have caught yourself a few nice browns if you had just put a worm on your hook and threw if off the bridge,” he said.
I thought to myself, just wait until next weekend, when I’m sure to have all the proper flies in my case, then we’ll see who the real expert is.
By Patti Carpenter