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September 18, 2014
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True words


Ah wait, was that a rise form out in the main part of the current? Or, were my eyes simply seeing what I was hoping to see? No, there it was again. A fish had taken his seat at the dining room table. I struggled to my feet. I intended to show him the yellow spinner I had on my tippet. I carefully kept my false casting away from where the fish was rising. Twice the fly seemed to pass directly over the fish. It was ignored. Darkness was fast approaching, yet I managed to change the fly to a tiny number 18 yellow emerger. In the gloom, it would not be easy to see this fly. Just as I began to cast, Jim and Mike Zazyck, with his good smelling cigar, arrived. On the second cast a rise form appeared where I judged the fly to be. I struck. Out in the current the river erupted. “He’s got one,” Mike yelled to Jim. The reel sang. Three times the fish jumped. At first, it was impossible to control this lively trout. The little hook held while I manage to let the fish run out of steam. I could not wait to see how big this fish was. Fortunately, the bank here slopes very gently into shallow water. This was a perfect place to beach the trout. Steady rod pressure wore the fish down. Reluctantly, it came towards the bank. The fish was able to make one last short run. Suddenly, the line went slack. The fish is gone. I am stunned. As Willy Landem, my Texas fishing partner likes to say, “Sometimes the fish win.” There is nothing left to do but reel up and slowly limp back to the car. True words

Norman MacLean once wrote, “No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and then the fish is gone.”

Several days ago, I was sitting on one of the two pools I am able to fish up on the East Branch of the Delaware. For an angler with a seriously painful arthritic knee, it is a blessedly short walk from the road. While this piece of the East Branch has the appearance of being a pool that should hold trout, it is deceptive. A good riffle comes in at the top. The flow then slows into a wide, smooth-surfaced pool, before running into a short swift riffle. I have now spent several evenings observing this spot and if it holds trout, they rarely reveal themselves even at the height of an evening hatch of mayflies. Certainly, this was not the best place for a fly fisher to station himself. However, like the gambler who, when asked why he continued to play even knowing the roulette wheel was crooked, said, “well, it’s the only wheel in town.”