Timmy, a co-worker (and excellent fisherman), organized a fly fishing trip at our all company meetup in Utah last week. I had never been fly fishing. I like rivers. I like fish. I signed up.
The Trout Tales guides picked us up at the hotel on Friday morning. We climbed into their rugged vehicles, ready for adventure. Timmy, who I just met that morning, and I were with our guide Walter. We stopped at a dusty parking lot, donned waders (basically a waterproof overalls/rain boots contraption), and were on our way to another parking lot, even further out. We parked, grabbed our rods, and walked into the brush along the river for about 10 – 15 minutes. We were headed towards a favorite spot of Walter’s. When we got there, we heard him groan. Between the time we parked, and the time we arrived, someone had claimed the spot we were eying. “Wait here,” and he ran ahead.
He came back. “It’s all good. He’s fine with us fishing next to him.”
And with that we waded into the water. I paused. I felt the sensation of the very cold, not quite icy, water rushing around my ankles, my knees, my thighs, as I waded deeper and deeper into the water. I felt my legs cooling down, even though they continued to stay dry. That surprising feeling of reality not matching expectations. I loved it. To our left were mountains covered with trees just starting to turn color, blotches of red scattered amongst the green and yellow. The sky was a baby blue, with perfect fluffy white clouds. I thought to myself, “Even if we don’t catch any fish, it’s already a perfect day.”
Walter showed me how to cast, let me try, and gave me pointers – not so much wrist, keep my arm straight, aim for a particular spot in the water. He showed me how to watch the little white bobble that would indicate when a fish was nibbling. And how to hook it. Then reel it in.
He turned to talk to Timmy. I saw the bobble dip below the water. I jerked the line and started reeling it in. When I was sure it was a fish and not the current, I hollered, “I think I have a fish.” He came over and coached me on how to reel it in. Elbows up. Let the fish swim and run the line, then reel it in when it’s not struggling. Be patient. Work with the fish.
When the fish was close to us, he scooped it up in a net and gently removed the ittiest, bittiest, tiniest hook from its lip. It was beautiful. A beautiful brown, coppery color, with red dots along its side. I whispered, “Hi, Oscar. Thank you.” Then Walter released it back into the water.
This basically continued the whole day. A few fish got away. Several were large, a few were babies, many were medium sized. All were beautiful. Mostly brown trout, but one glistening whitefish, and one multi-colored, shimmering rainbow trout. Each glimmered in the sun, and stopped struggling as soon as our hands were on them. The goodbyes were my favorite part – putting them back in the river and watching them strongly swim away.
The day ended much too early. I could have stayed out in the river all day, just casting and staring at the mountains, listening to the rush of the water around me. Would I go again? Why, yes. I’m hooked.