Reflections on Father's Day

river scene

Sunday was Father’s Day and not having any kids of my own I thought it would be a great day to go to one of my favorite rivers. My theory was that the usual crowds would be at home with their families celebrating around the grill. I got a late start Sunday morning, it’s a long story, let’s just say having three dogs can sometimes lead to a rough night’s sleep. I left the house around 9am and drove the hour and a half to the river. My theory proved true as there we’re only a few cars in the lot by the river.

It was a cloudy day with the threat of showers looming over head all day, so I packed a rain jacket with my waders. While unpacking in the lot I wasn’t sure if I wanted to just bring the tenkara rod or also include a western rod and reel. I went with the tenkara rod and figured I could trek back if necessary.

I read online earlier in the week that green wooly buggers we’re working in the river instead of the usual smallest nymphs you could find in your fly box. So, I tied on a nice green bugger with some flash and made my way to the river. I decided to start below the bridge where I have had some luck recently. The landscape had taken over since my last trip here. All the rain had made the water rise but also spiked a big growth in the landscape. The tenkara rod came in handy getting through the overgrowth.
wild brook troutI made it down to the river and scanned the water looking for trout in the crystal clear water. The flow was finally back down to a fishable rate after all the heavy rain. I didn’t see any fish but started to cast to the typical spots that look like they would hold trout. After no strikes in the area in front of me I decided to wade upstream a little ways to a bend with some cover. This was the right decision as I felt a strike on my first cast. I was a little late on this strike and hoped I didn’t spook this fish as I cast again a little behind and left of the same spot. Luck was on my side as a felt another strike as my fly drifted by the spot. This time I wasn’t late and set the hook. The tug was light so I figured it might be a small wild brook trout. Sure, enough it was a small but beautifully colored brook trout. After a quick photo I released him back to the river.

Next, I made several casts to some areas across the river that looked promising. I didn’t get any attention, so I started to let my fly drift for a shorter distance. Many Japanese tenkara experts believe that shorter drifts to target a specific area yield better results. Imagine a grid on the water and you hit the grid squares one at a time. In short time I felt another strike and set the hook. This one felt a little heavier and my excitement grew as I worked the line towards me. Another wild brook trout but quite a bit bigger than the first one.wild brook trout

A few more casts and I decided to get out of the water and head up the trail to some areas upstream. As I walked the trail, I was taking in all the scenery that changed since my last trip here in January. It was very serene, and I started to think of Father’s Days of my past when I would fish with my Dad. It’s been a while since he passed but I always think of him when I’m out on the water. A little way down the trail and it started to rain. I was glad I packed that rain jacket.

I got to the big pool and it was occupied by a few anglers, so I headed towards a branch of the river that usually holds decent fish. It didn’t take long to spot some good size fish on this branch of the river. It is very narrow and gin clear. The depth was a little higher than normal and the flow a little faster. In front of me hanging out behind some structure was a good size rainbow that appeared to be feeding off the bottom. So, I switched out the bugger for a nymph and cast upstream and began a dead drift. Tenkara rod high, the fly drifted perfectly past the rainbow but she didn’t seem to care or notice. A few more casts but still nothing. I switched flies again, this time to a black and red sakasa kebari. A perfect drift by and she took notice this time. She followed it and my excitement rose but then she changed her mind and went back to her holding spot. I might have spooked her or maybe it was instinct. This river sees a lot of angling traffic and the fish spook very easily. A few more tries and then I moved on to other areas. The rest of the day I cast flies to disinterested trout, might have been my technique, my fly choice or some other reason but that’s why they call it fishing.
river scene

As the day grew long, I looked at my watch and decided I better head home. It started to rain again, and I had an hour and a half drive home. It was a fun day away as I was able to catch some wild brook trout and lose my self in the scene, forgetting about the daily stresses. Fly fishing is great like that, the perfect escape from reality or is it an escape to reality. Anyways, Happy Father’s Day if you’re a Dad and or Happy Father’s Day if you’re thinking of your own Dad.
Tight Lines
-Bill Holleran

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