Fishing for trout, catching poodles
I should have been miserable. There I was standing thigh deep in the icy waters of the Blue River with my ankles miraculously sweating. I was looking at bugs that resembled something out of the movie “Alien,” though in a slightly smaller version, and I was about as far away from a doughnut or a beer as a sane person should get. And still I was happy.
It was my first time fly fishing, and even though I was not yet used to being incased in rubber waders (that’s why my ankles were sweating), and I felt as completely out of my element as I’d ever been, the sun was shinning, the river was bubbling and I had managed to somehow remain upright the entire time I was stumbling over slippery rock. I almost felt like Brad Pitt in that movie about a river running through something or other, except for the fact that he’s rich and has hair.
Still, it was a glorious day.
Of course the day was made even better, because I was out with an accomplished guide who knew just about every nuance of this confusing sport.
Trapper Rudd, owner of Trapper Rudd’s Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne, probably knows more about fish habits than the fish do themselves. He also comes with an incredible amount of patience, a great sense of humor and a laid-back attitude, which is always a good thing when dealing with beginners of any kind.
We began the day with a quick casting lesson in a field next to Rudd’s shop.
As a way of demonstrating the correct casting technique, Rudd would point at a tiny object like a leaf or pebble about 80 feet away, then bang, he would cast and set his line dead center on the object. When it was my time to try, Rudd pointed at a leaf, I aimed and bang, I hooked a poodle. Then bang, I hooked a rather large man from Kansas with a bad attitude. When I hit the kid running for the cover of his parents’ SUV, my lesson abruptly ended.
Unfortunately, Rudd explained all the fishing he does is catch and release, so I had to throw my entire haul back. It’s a shame too, because I hear them poodles is good eat’n.
After learning how to correctly work my rod and reel, we went fishing. And, I was soon to learn fly fishing is a lot harder than just tossing a line into the water and waiting for stupid fish to come a calling.
Fly fishing takes an amazing amount of skill, patience and cunning. Yes, to become an expert fly fisherperson you have to outwit, outplay and outlast an animal that has a brain the size of a pea. Much like those people on
“Survivor.” This, unfortunately, was nearly impossible for your’s truly. The trick to fly fishing is to make your fly, which is hopefully attached to your line, act exactly like fish food. Since different kinds of flies are made to represent different bugs, you have to figure out just what the fish are eating and then convince the fish your fake bug is real. This is no easy task, especially if bug behavior has never been high on your things-I-need-to-know list.
But, with a guide like Rudd, who seemed to know everything about bugs including where to find the nasty little suckers, I was pretty much set. I could of, however, skipped the time we spent flipping over river rocks so he could show me some bug hangouts, which surprisingly resembled a group of congressmen or lawyers.
In the end my day fly fishing was a day well spent. Even if I never did get near a doughnut shop or a beer joint, sometimes it’s better to try something new.
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