April 23, 2012
The X factor
I know that I like an art where disparate elements form an entity.
experiences) makes this move a classic no-brainer. That's my first mistake, or second, really, because I shouldn't have fished the leech for so long. But, as I explained earlier, that wasn't my fault.
Two scuds, about eight inches apart. The top one is a number ten, or twelve, the bottom one a fourteen or sixteen. The shanks are wrapped with lead. I'd say lead 'substitute' here, but that sounds too horribly politically correct, which it isn't (I'd be lying. Lead is king). Often, if I'm unsure about the 'color of the day', I'll use two different colors, usually with the lighter-colored scud as the point fly, or not, of course, but recent successes have (sometimes) dictated dark on the top, lighter on the point. The idea is to cover as many bases as possible within the spectrum of the colors and sizes of the 'naturals' here. In a perfect world I'd fish one, and still sometimes do, but that's only when I'm stark raving dialed in sure of the color and size, and that only happens when the fish are wildly appreciative. Otherwise it's a numbers game. By that I mean if you show them two instead of one, they think it's a hatch and start feeding on them. That's what I like to think. I also fish my chironomids two at a time. I'd use three if could cast them without creating a complex macrame project for myself too often. I'm good enough at that with two and an indicator.
As far as I know, from what I've observed, anyway, there seems to be at least a couple of popular methods with which to fish scuds. A lot of fishermen prefer to fish them underneath an indicator. That challenges me. I know scuds can 'swim', which is really just a series of rather spasmodic movements designed to propel themselves only short distances. I have seen fish hooked using this method, but I have also, on occasion, noticed that the 'scud' being fished was decidedly orange in color. Now, I understand that a dying scud will have an orangish tinge, and the fish may very well be eating them for that reason, but, I've seen some pretty damned bright orange 'scuds' being fished, leading me to think that it's being mistaken for an egg. I don't fish egg patterns. I personally think that's way out of bounds. When I fish the scud, I prefer to use what I think is a more rational, common sensical approach, which is to let them settle for a bit and then very slowly, with a hand twist retrieve, drag them along the bottom, adding a bit of a twitch every now and then. This method works fishing blind, and is especially effective when I'm able to cast to fish I can see. It's exciting when the scud gets the fish's attention causing it to either move in slowly for a more thorough examination or, when the scud is moved, sometimes quite casually swimming over to eat it, although I've also had them suddenly dart toward and inhale the prey thinking it might escape. The number of fish I've hooked fishing scuds this way has convinced me that despite it being tedious and time consuming, it's a more 'natural' approach. Notice how I got around using the word patience.
But none of this happened. Not one fish was enticed to give any of my offerings any more than a passing glance. I switched colors, and sizes. I fished them blind. I spotted fish and cast to them. I suffered through refusals, shuns, and downright indifference, some fish even turning and swimming away as soon as they saw my scuds. I put it right in front of them. I dragged them across in front of likely candidates. I tried every possible previously successful approach, to no avail. I think it was at about this time that the light began to flicker on. I stopped for awhile, and studied a couple of big bruisers that were hunkered down a short distance below my position. Occasionally one or the other would move a little right or left, the mouth would open and close, and then it was back to their original position. I began to notice other fish swimming around in a leisurely fashion involved in similar activity. I could see that something was being consumed, but it seemed strange to me that none of them were rooting through, or even perusing the bottom for food. The light flickered, then suddenly shone...
I like to think that my years of fishing experiences have served to instruct me. I've finally grown comfortable with being fairly confident in my ability to identify and solve problems, proud of my drive to find solutions or alternatives. And yet, while feeling all of this, I stood there frustrating the hell out of myself, suddenly not sure of anything (again), and it took one of those little voices telling me to think about what I was seeing, or more to the point was not seeing that turned it all around.
What I wasn't seeing was the key, and I couldn't see it because I was blinded by past success. The routine had become pre-determined out of the satiating quench of earlier successes. I'd become the guy that 'knows it all'. Worse than that, I'd become the guy who thinks he knows it all. I'd become my own worst enemy. I'd forgotten the 'most important rule';
NEVER let success go to your head!
There is a balance point that needs to be found, and maintained. The sweet spot. That spot lies at the exact center of your compass between confidence and humility, success and failure. Right there. In the middle of that tiny red dot. Anywhere else is just a journey in the process. It doesn't guarantee success, but it sure as hell means you're heading in the right direction. Amazing what I can figure out when I go fishing...
Back to the action.
Lesson completed, the scuds removed, chironomids now in their assigned positions under an indicator. My first cast settled and traveled maybe ten feet before my indicator suddenly disappeared. I reacted slowly, the adrenalin pump lifted my rod with too much gusto, more than a bit taken aback at the immediate response, and another trout made off with some tiny shiny jewelry. Several minutes later, re-fitted with two more chironomids, I was able to react more adroitly to the next take, and the one after that. And so on it went until I looked at my watch and saw that it was time to hit the road for home.
After one more cast.
After all, success, no matter how fleeting, should always be thoroughly enjoyed.