Monday, June 20, 2011

FISH TALES: My First . . .

Dear anglers,
We all have our share of memorable fly fishing FIRSTS--first fish caught on a dry fly, first trophy fish, etc. I hope you will share some of your favorite firsts with us. Here is one of mine from last year.

My First Fish . . . From a Bridge

H: September 25, 2010. I went to Vermont to fish the Battenkill and met up with my friend and former instructor, Antoine Bissieux. Unfortunately, water levels were extremely low. The evening I arrived, it was a scorching 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the Battenkill was a completely changed river from when I was there last. Turbulent riffles and fast runs had been reduced to exposed rock/gravel beds and sluggish waters. The wild trout in the Battenkill are about as finicky as they get. In these conditions, they would be near impossible to catch.

Antoine says to me, "With the water this low, you can't step into the river. If you do, you will spook all the fish." (Spoken in a French accent!) So what's a flygirl to do? Fish from a bridge, of course. I've seen spin fishermen drop their bait/lures from the top of bridges but I've never seen a fly angler cast from a bridge.

We drove to one of several small bridges that cross the Battenkill. This particular bridge was about 25 feet high. Dusk was falling and caddis were out in full force, skittering upstream to lay their eggs. As we stood on the bridge looking down below, we spotted a slim dark shadow behind a rock. Antoine and I positioned ourselves on one side of the bridge. He demonstrated the technique I should use: casting down towards the opposite bank and quickly stripping in the line to make the fly dance on the water's surface. I watched as his back cast disappeared skywards, his line soaring up and down like a graceful yo-yo.

Antoine took a short break. As he was walking back, I made my 6th or 7th cast and got a fish on! I was slightly in shock but I managed to keep tension on the line, walked to the end of the bridge, and down the steep dirt path that led to the river bank. It was now dark and I could just barely make out the path. But with Antoine's help we netted the fish--a skinny but feisty 17-inch wild brown--first fish I've caught from a bridge.

We would love to hear about your favorite fly fishing firsts, whether they are funny, sad, inspirational, or just plain silly...anyone? Feel free to email us your stories or add them as a comment to this post.

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