Well, seriously, you have to begin as a flyfisherman somewhere…
Preferably far from home, where no one you know will have a good laugh…
At your expense!
I asked around, and decided to head a short drive east to try and practice my casting on real water, water that moves, with the wind blowing. Standing in the heat of the day on a field of green grass had been fun, but I knew I was ready to take the next step.
While I can’t say that my fingers were actually trembling as I tied on one of my flies, I was pretty darn excited about the thought of tying one of my incredible creations, floating it through the air, then landing the kind of fish the leet angler dreams of as he surfs all the online fly fishing magazines. But I digress.
I picked up my rod, and headed to the water.
It dawned on me that I had no idea where to start.
So, I just started, trying to cast, trying to relax, trying to remember all that I had learned at the casting workshop at the Tyler Place.
It was somewhat frustrating to try and cast “real time”…
I could barely present the fly, let alone catch anything!
I wasn’t sure if it was the moving water, or the different rod/reel/line, but I was feeling overwhelmed. It took some time before I actually started to calm down… to just try and “gently” present the fly.
I stopped trying to cast 30 feet out, took a deep breath, just settled down, and focussed on getting the fly *where* I wanted it.
I never saw a fish, nor felt even the slightest of tugs, but I had practised casting, and felt ready for the next step: fishing a mountain stream for brook trout!
One of the Tyler Place guests, Aaron (a lawyer from New York City), and I, had hired professional guide Mark Wilde from Uncle Jammers to take us to a spot in the mountains where we could (at least theoretically) land ourselves some “brookies”. We got up early the next morning and headed up past Smuggler’s Notch to a spot Mark has had much success with, for neophyte fly fisherman such as we are…
The stream was pretty small, and very shallow. Despite temps in the high nineties back at the Tyler Place, up on the creek the air temps were barely over 70F. We were wet wading, and I sure didn’t see any signs of any brook trout. Mark would say, “Oh look, there’s one…” or “You got a rise, right there!” I began to realize, yet again, that I had to slow down…. these things were tiny, skittish, and quick.
I know that Aaron was hoping to catch some big fish. His previous Vermont experience was catching lots of large smallmouth bass in Lake Champlain. The partners at his law firm had told him stories about their special spots in Montana. Expectations…
Well, we walked. We talked.
My mindset was that, if nothing else, I was learning to cast, to cast better than before, and I had a great coach with me. Not all my casts ended up in the trees!
Mark was very patient, and would spend lots of time explaining many aspects of the sport, and answered countless questions from me. I can’t recommend him enough, for someone like me who wants to get started. I can only hope that everyone who hires a guide for the first time has such a positive experience. he would give you just enough attention to help you, maybe tell you to get down low, hide behind a rock, or move your arm differently, but would still bugger off and leave you alone so you would have some fun on the water.
Then the magic started.
You start to actually see these tiny little brook trout, to figure how how to present the fly, to drift it past the rocks and into that little shadow in the pool where they are waiting ever so cautiously, and you don’t scare them off!
It is truly amazing how catching something so small, so delicate, can be as exciting as catching any fish anywhere.
At the end of the day, I felt like I had caught me a WHOPPER!
(OK, it didn’t hurt that I caught three fish and the others were skunked!)
BTW, I was fishing with a Temple Forks Outfitters 7’ 4wt Bug Launcher.
The dry fly Mark Wilde recommends for this small stream’s brook trout fishing probably has a different name, but we nicknamed it “The Wilde Wolf”, essentially a Royal Wulff with a bit of orange where the red should be.
My visit to Vermont did include a couple more days on the river… I went back to the same stretch of water I started my casting on, and another day in the tailwaters of the dam at Enosburg Falls. The most amazing part of that story is that, returning to the same stretch of water, where I couldn’t even begin to figure out how to cast… well, I was not disappointed a second time! From the first fly on the surface, I was catching fish, and with a fly that I had tied, all by myself. Pretty cool, maybe not as exciting as all the books say, but cool just the same. I even landed a couple of 11-12 inch bass that day, which was also pretty exciting!