February 5, 2010


I allow my intuition to lead my path.
Manuel Puig

One of the most memorable fishing days I have ever experienced had nothing whatsoever to do with fishing. It had to do with discovery. Or, more to the point, strength of conviction.
It was a perfect morning. Warm, overcast, only a still slightly chill pre-dawn breeze coming up the river. Caddis still danced everywhere along the surface, reluctant to call it a night. During the past few days I had been witness to massive late evening hatches here, having stayed late into the darkness reveling in the success of my swinging soft hackle. I swear that these trout who wait for the safety of the night before beginning to feed, are the truest of savages. Hugging the algae-blackened rocks of the bottom by day, they rise with the coming darkness to attack my fly with abandon, catapulting themselves into the night, often even before it has begun its swing through the currents.
Then, as it gets very dark, I fish blind. It's a guessing game with every cast. Now, the playing field is somewhat leveled, and these malevolently-colored trout seem to understand their advantage, using the night and even subtlety to camouflage their attacks, while plying every trick in their arsenal of escape mechanisms to perfection when hooked. I am forced to rely on senses other than sight as I respond to their struggle, and I begin to understand that I must somehow always be in touch with my offering, otherwise they are gone before I can react. I will, from this time on, reap the fruit of these nighttime forays. I call it 'using the force'. Being 'in touch' is now everything, even when blessed with daylight. I can only guess at the numbers of fish I have lost in not having fully developed all of my senses.
And one of those senses is intuition. In an earlier post I went on, probably ad nauseum, about its importance in the conception, and subsequent development of flies, which will help me connect the dots for you now.
I decided to revisit the spot where I'd spent the previous evening, and as stated earlier, Caddis were still hatching, although it was apparent after a few minutes of observation that it had nearly run its course for the present time. Nevertheless, even though I saw rising fish, I'd chosen to swing the same fly that had been so successful just a few hours ago. Everything was the same, save for the daylight now... but the difference was amazing. Twenty casts and twenty swings later, I stood silently, staring out over the same water that had been so alive the night before. I had one strike, a youngster who had been one of the few fish rising. I noticed midges on the surface. It was pretty obvious to me that only the younger fish were up chasing them. The feast that had taken place through the night was obviously over for a while. I looked around, and saw several anchor points (spots usually over bushes, windbreaks, etc.) where several caddis still swirled. And I wondered if I might still hook fish with the soft hackle if I could swing it across down more deeply in the column. I'd thought of this the night before, and tied my first (of what will be many)
bead head soft hackle ever. Same size, same everything with the addition of a tungsten bead.
I tied it on, and cast, pleased at the extra distance I was able to attain because of the weight. Now, I can't be sure just how much deeper the fly was when it began its swing, but, as my line began to belly with the current, there was a very strong pull, and just a second later, a dark-backed trout flew skyward. This activity was to be repeated several times in the next hour, until I donated it. I got lazy and decided to forego what should always be a constant. Nevertheless, I learned a lot that morning. About myself. That lesson serves me well, for not only fishing. The knowledge that I can make decisions and choices that may somehow go against the grain of 'acceptable' rationale. Intuitiveness is a gift that extends far beyond the waters I fish. It cuts right through the middle of everything. Right on through all the other crap.

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    I've rarely fished in the dark (something I need to rectify). But one of the biggest browns I have ever caught on our local river was at night. I was using a sculpin pattern. I let it bounce the bottom of some pocket water (a patch maybe 5' long, 3' wide and 2' deep). I thought for sure I had a snag because a fish that heavy couldn't be in that little pocket. I was fishing by the light of the moon, so length here is a bit dicey, but I believe he was over 19" and quite thick.

    Intuition. I don't know if it was intuition that I tossed my fly in the pocket, or just determination and thoroughness, but it paid off.

    Thanks for the nice read.