I went fishing in the rain, because, well, it was raining. Sometimes there’s no real reason other than it’s the obvious thing to do. I was there, I had a fly rod, I had my waders, and I even had a rain jacket. Not stopping to fish and just driving on would’ve been like making any other stupid decision. Only worse.
I wanted to fish dry flies on the new 4wt S Glass, but pouring rain and rising water dictated something other than what my mind wanted. The older I get the better I get at dealing with disappointments. Actually, what would’ve been a disappointment twenty-something years ago, these days is just another day and just another chance to adapt and overcome. So I tied on a weighted bugger and started casting.
The water was still clear even though it was coming up, so I had a good look at what the fly was doing as I stripped it in. Short little jerks had the pale-yellow thing with the black head bobbing and darting like something alive that needed to be eaten. At least that’s what I saw and hoped was the case. It didn’t take long, casting into the fast current and then stripping into an eddy before I started getting little tugs. I figured they were either really small fish, or I was stripping too fast for the conditions and the strikes were short, just grabs at the tail. Most likely, a little of both.
I slowed down the strips, letting more of the action come from the swing in the current and began seeing flashes of gold. Eventually I hooked a couple little smallmouths and while they weren’t much more than ten or eleven inches I was still happy to catch them. Of course I’d have liked to caught something bigger, but I wasn’t disappointed. It’s another example of how I’ve adapted as I’ve gotten older. Be happy with what you have at hand. You can want more, but you’re not always going to get it. I don’t care how hard you work. Disappointment and failure are part of life.
I moved down stream into some pocket water and found it was getting harder to fish. The water was moving fast, smashing off the boulders, and it was getting harder to wade too. It didn’t help that my cleats on my boots should’ve been changed a year ago. Sometimes they’d grip the river stones alright, but a lot of the time they’d slide, their edges were worn down to almost round profiles like the river stones they tried to grip. I told myself I’d change them out when I got home. It’s always funny when I tell myself something knowing it’s a lie.
The fish were getting harder to come by in the pocket water so I went back up stream to the big pool where I started, but the rocks I’d been standing on an hour earlier were all under a few inches of water now. I changed flies, put on a heavier bugger with a tungsten bead, and began sending casts out and up stream, making a mend to allow the fly to drop faster. And then I’d just let it drift with the fast current hoping it would get down to the bottom long enough to get in a fish’s face before it started swinging and lifting.
About the time I started questioning if I was wasting time or not there was a tug. I lifted the rod but nothing was there, and so I let it finish it’s downstream swing and then made one more cast. I went back to wondering if I was wasting my time. This was where I wanted to be, so I decided that no matter what it is you’re doing, if you’re using your time to do something that you like, it really couldn’t be a waste of time. Being responsible on the other hand, doing something like going to work or mowing the lawn, something that didn’t make you happy, when you’d rather be fishing was wasting your time. Because you can’t ever get that time back. And you just never know how much time you’ve got left. So you should really try to not “waste” any of it.
Right then there was another tug, I lifted, and the line was tight. For a split second I had to wonder if it was snagged, but only for a split second. The trout rocketed downstream, then across, then back up a little, then back to me. Looking down into the clear water from my boulder I saw the brown, maybe fifteen inches give or take, rise for the surface and then do a u-turn mid current, turning it’s body into a U as well and then straighten out on the bottom facing into the current. Time froze for a second and I could see the bugger in its mouth and had just enough time to wonder how a trout could sit on the bottom motionless in such a current with a fly stuck in its mouth and a 4wt rod bent over and hold it’s position seemingly effortlessly. And then as quickly as the hook up had happened the bugger popped loose, and the trout darted away under the cover of white water.
I didn’t get another tug for the next half hour before finally giving in to the rain. How anyone could consider that a disappointment or a waste of time was beyond my reasoning. I’d have never gotten that moment of a trout battling in my mind if I’d driven on past because of some rain. I watched that trout twist and settle on the bottom a thousand times on the two-hour ride home. Time well spent.
Mark Usyk is the author of Reflections of a Fly Rod and Carp Are Jerks, both simply books filled with stories about life, where fishing happens. You can buy signed copies here on jprossflyrods.com or find them on Amazon in e-book format. His next book, Not All trout Are Geniuses, looks like it’ll be available around November of this year. He’s just got to get a couple trips finished up and put into words. If you’re wondering what rods he’s fishing these days… He’s partial to the JP Ross 10”6” 4wt Peacemaker, and his latest edition is the new JP Ross Beaver Meadow S Glass. Browse our rod selection…You’re sure to find something unique that will fit your wants and needs on the water!