“Stop! Shhhhh! Go back the other way”.
We’d hiked close to 10km already, and me with 20kg of camera gear. I was tired. My legs were heavy, and the thought of backtracking wasn’t really appealing.
“What’s wrong”? I asked, half inquisitively and half annoyed.
Josh on the other hand was excited. “There are 2 fish cruising a beat around the pool. One just rose under my feet. Have you got that dry fly rigged”?
Well I’d been carrying the fly rod around all day, had the odd cast between snapping photos, and yes I had the dry fly rigged. I dropped the camera bag, grabbed the rod and crawled on hands and knees as quietly as I could to the waters edge.
“Stay low, get ready, get some line out, quickly, it’s coming back around”. Josh barked orders as I frustratingly fumbled around trying to get line off the reel.
Fly fishing requires a whole new set of skills, and fly fishing for trout in a narrow, shallow stream, presents a whole new set of problems that requires even more skill. Skill I haven’t mastered yet.
How many times can the leader wrap around the rod tip in a matter of seconds after dropping the fly? An even more probing question is, how far away is the rod tip of a 9 foot fly rod when you’re crouched on hands and knees in the grass trying not to get spotted by the trout you are stalking? I can tell you it’s exactly 9 feet, and my arms don’t reach that far!
Finally. Rod tip untangled, and with enough line out at my feet ready to cast.
I go to make a practice cast while the fish is down the other end of the pool. I’m still trying to judge distance when casting, and I have a bit of time up my sleeve. Load the rod, one false cast and go to shoot the line… “CRAP, CRAP, CRAP”!!!! How tangled can your line get in the reeds and grass at your feet? Line wrapped around the reeds, under your knees, around the back of the reel? Line shoots out and then recoils suddenly as it catches on each and every one of these obstacles.. “CRAP”, under my breath, “CRAP, CRAP, CRAP”.
I spend the next, well, what seems like eternity untangling line and finally get a cast out that lays onto the water quite nicely. From the vantage point up the tree, with camera in hand, Josh issues some more instructions, and I get myself set.
Pick the line up off the water, and shoot it out again. The fish is cruising down this end of the pool again. The fly drifts slowly in the current. The fish seemingly turns towards the fly. I hold my breath, eyes bulging, teeth clenched, “it’s going to take it, yes, take it”, and then it turns away and cruises off.
There are 2 fish in this pool and they are doing circles. Obviously feeding and rising to insects on the surface. “Wait for it to come back” are the instructions. So I wait, and wait, and watch the 2 fish feeding ferociously in the far corner. Wait some more, practice cast, wait. Five minutes pass, practice cast. Pick the line off the water and on the backcast “CRAP, CRAP, DOUBLE CRAP”. Well now the fly is in the bushes behind and just to the right of my position. Fortunately Josh manages to free my line and fly without major drama and we’re back in business.
The fish is moving back down this end of the pool again. The cast leads the fish by a good couple of meters, and Josh is Whispering instructions again.
Once more I hold my breath and clench my teeth. Time seems to stand still, for that split second as the fish breeches the surface and the fly disappears… Suddenly I react and strike, the line loads up and there’s a simultaneous “YEAHHHH” screamed by the four of us in unison.
I let out a sigh of relief, start to retrieve some line, and then the line goes slack… followed by four voices “NOOOOOO” again in unison.