Days between fish ain’t so bad when the only reason you haven’t tailed one is because you just haven’t been out. Alaskans routinely go through this…it’s called winter. Yeah it sucks but the reason is clear. You accept it and move on.
There is a whole new level of suck when you’ve been out there and things aren’t really turning out the way you expected. Several trips in and not a tug or a pull or one tailed. Didn’t help that the wind was always blowing in the wrong direction and strong enough to knock down trees. Seriously. One trip I heard a tree across the river snap and come crashing to the ground. From now on I am listening to those “winter storm warnings”.
A lot goes through your mind as fishless day adds to fishless day. You begin to wonder if it’s going to happen. You keep telling yourself that it’s just a matter of time and to keep making the casts and taking the steps. You wonder if you didn’t make a mistake by not fishing the usual spots and instead opting to explore new water. You begin to second guess your new fly theory and wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just go back to what worked before. You think to yourself are the fish even here? Maybe they’re over there or over there? Maybe I should have run through one more time? Is five feet of 10# enough? Should I go shorter…longer? Do I have the right sinktip on?
A lot of questions and not a lot of answers.
Then on the last trip of the season it all falls into place. A person who shall go unnamed had started things rolling by getting three solid grabs. Two were teasers to get his attention. The third was solid and would have been the fisher’s first of the year if it weren’t for him fumbling his new clicker reel. Cold fingers make it tough to pinch the running line between your fingers during the hookset. Add to this a reel with just enough “drag” to keep it from free-spooling and a newbie in the clicker reel plus big fish department and you end up with tug tug…ZZZT…ZZZT…ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! It was tragic and made him think real long and hard about switching that Hardy clicker for the Nautilus in his pack.
So when someone in your group hooks up on the first fish of day it sets off something within the rest of the group. You focus a bit more and you pay attention to each little pull, bump, and nudge. You just know that any minute now it’s going to happen to you. My first fish picked up the fly and just ran with it. I had gained enough line to bring the back of the head to the reel when the fish just seemed to let go. I blame it on a weak hookset. I don’t think the hook ever really got settled in.
The next fish came a bit later. The hookup was aggressive. Quick set and the fish made two big jumps. A few long runs and I was able to tail my first fish of the year. My new super, secret fly pinned right in the corner.
I know the photo is a bit blurry. The guy behind the camera helped tail the fish and the water was super cold. As for all that wind this Spring. It was without a doubt the worst wind I’ve ever fished in. Hands and face hurt like a mudderfukker. One of the guys in the crew suggested this.