I recently spent the day fishing with some good friends in an area that we had heard held some really big trout, maybe trophy size. We met at the site, parked the cars and geared up for a day on the water. The small talk was almost non-existent as we hurried to put on our waders and get to the water. We had bigger things on our minds. Approaching the water we noticed several different types of bugs on and around the water. Matching the hatch was going to be anyone’s guess.
At the water’s edge we decided to divide and conquer with one of us at the dam and the other two heading downstream. It was a beautiful sunny day and our excitement had been building all morning. I decided to use a reverse hackle tenkara fly that has become my go-to choice this season. This fly has produced when all others have failed so I’ve skipped looking for the hatch and just started casting. As I approached the water below the dam I immediately say what had to be an 18” trout, maybe a rainbow or a brown. I couldn’t wait to cast to this big beauty. I cast above the fish and dead drifted towards it. No reaction. After several casts with not even a single movement by the fish I decided to pulse the tenkara fly a little hoping to entice it to strike.
Instead it just swam away. Next I decided to focus on another pool a few yards downstream. I kept the same fly as I don’t believe in switching to quickly. Sure enough I felt a strike in the second pool but this strike didn’t feel anything like what I had hoped for. I set the hook with a quick lift of the rod and began the fight. The RBT One tenkara rod immediately started to bend. I knew it was a small fish but with a tenkara rod even a small fish can be a lot of fun. You don’t have a reel full of extra line to work the fish. You have to do all the work with the line and rod. I kept my arm straight up to keep the tension and worked the fish towards me by raising my arm to the sky and angling the line towards shore. In a short time the fish was in front of me and I netted it with my free hand. It was a small sunfish with beautiful colors.
I didn’t snap any pics of this one because the big trout was still on my mind. I worked my way up and down the stream several times and saw more monster-size trout in the 18-20” range. I must have tried every type of fly that I had in my box but to no avail. Then I remembered the reason I was here. It wasn’t to catch the biggest trout I’d seen in this area but to forget the stresses of the day and have fun with a couple friends on the water.
Lose myself in this natural scene and just fish. I pulled in several more sunfish and pumpkin seeds while chasing the elusive trout before checking in with my buddies. I was hoping one of them would report landing the biggest trout we’d seen in a while and then again I wasn’t. It’s a little selfish I know but at the same time it gave me some comfort that three of us had tried and failed. Maybe it wasn’t my technique or fly choice. Maybe they just weren’t biting. My friends had reported the exact same results.
While heading back to the cars we laughed at each other’s lack of success and vowed to return as soon as possible to catch that trophy trout. On the way to get lunch I thought about how we hadn’t caught the big fish but how we had still had a pretty successful day on the water. After all we caught several fish, albeit not the fish we’d hoped for but we also left behind the daily grind and got lost in the moment for a few hours in the company of friends.
Chasing the elusive fish is always going to be the challenge but not necessarily the goal. “Fishing is much more than fish… It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.”