I remember my first attempt at feeding a visible fish ended badly, with my own nerves subconsciously willing my arm to pull the Adams upstream and away from the monstrous brown trout that was so keen on eating it.
That was the problem with a kid whose best fish ever was 10 whole inches, who’s only mastery was the Wind Knot.
Monstrous Brown Trout being akin to the Tooth Fairy, something that was commonly talked about, but rarely seen and impossible to verify.
Later we fought the “yips” and demonstrated our coolness under pressure, when we discovered the high Sierra lakes could be mastered with a black floating ant – so long as you cast it out before the fish got near, and hid in the brush as they finned closer.
I remember seeing the stark white of their mouth as it opened prior to rupturing the surface, and how gratifying it was to watch the slow arc of intercept without fear of my committing a horrific faux pas, complements of my steely nerves.
But those were Trout, which is a fairly amiable fish – largely unsophisticated and outside of a generous helping of skittish, being fairly predictable …
… now I find myself repeating those same lessons, only each lesson ends with a Polaris-class shadow accelerating into an intercept course – before fading back into the massive root ball whence it came.
If you’re in just the right place at just the right afternoon hour, the sun’s rays can penetrate deep enough so you can alternately watch your fly and gnaw on the bloody stumps of your fingernails. The Bad News being our quarry is a Largemouth Bass, known for fits of pure stubborn interlaced with lockjaw and irascibility.
I’ve just discovered him and his pals in a snarl of downed timber. Their location suggests they’ve seen everything in my fly box save the hinges, and I’ll have to invent something unknown and irresistible just to spark interest.
Complicating all this is the need to get my offering past the smaller fish in his battle group, as a stung or caught fish scatters them to the four winds.
After many hundreds of rejections, the on-again off-again controversy over bead headed flies comes to mind. How the Bulletin Board’s erupt in righteous fury when someone suggests all that mass might make them lures instead of flies …
… suggesting I might want to downplay my latest idea, how I might present a live mouse on a cedar shingle with a 3/0 Stinger rubber banded around his hindquarters – and would that make me merely a lesser Demon, or the actual Anti-Christ …