Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Back to Basics

Wow.   July 2015.  Time has flown by and left me in such a time warp.  I took on a new job at Boeing as an IT guy, Change and Release Manager to be exact, and in the last 22 months I have been swept up in the world of learning my new craft and more recently a newer craft as a Computing Architect.  I sit back and think about my fishing in the last 22 months. I am much more comfortable in my new career, but when I look at my fly rods collecting dust, it makes me sad.  On one hand I have a new, well paying career, I am able to better support my family, and that all makes me happy but I miss my fly rods.  I miss stalking Redfish and strolling through the spartina grass.  This is my year though.  Even though it is technically half over, 2015 is my return.  My return to fly fishing, my return to this blog.  It's time to get back to basics.

I thought about my journey of fly fishing.  How did I begin?  How did it all start for me?  I remember my Wal-Mart 3pc 5/6wt rod that my wife bought me that almost ended fly fishing for me.  I remember struggling to learn how to cast.  and then I remember the first time I casted a real fly rod and how the line shot through the guides and as that nice tight loop unfolded to a beautiful, soft presentation of the fly that was then crushed by a small Rainbow trout.  THAT is what I wanted again.  I wanted to start all over. 

I have caught two world records, caught some big fish, caught a lot of fish, played the "my wiener is bigger then yours" game, been on the pro staff of a rod company, worked in a world class fly shop, and fly fished on five continents.  All of that was just filling "goals" to be the cool kid.  You know, bragging rights.  I am kinda over all that now.  I guess I am older and wiser; at least that's what I am telling myself.  I appreciate the few real friends I have made over that journey, those few I still fish with on occasion but talk to all the time.  All the “friends” I had while I worked at the fly shop who disappeared shortly after I stopped working there truly opened my eyes.   I wasted a lot of time and energy playing the game.  I think this break has helped me see through all of that and allowed me to take stock of my passion and reel me back, pardon the pun, to what I used to know and feel.

I decided I would start with the number one caught fish in the US.  The Mighty Bluegill.  Armed with my trust 2wt and a small box of small wooly buggers, tiny dry flies and tiny poppers I headed out.  I stalked my old stomping grounds and began to cast, and cast, and cast some more.   It got dark and I had nary a nibble.  I sat on the bank as the last rays of sun dropped below the horizon.  I couldn’t even catch a bluegill.  The fish that literally eat ANYTHING and I could not nab one of them.  I really was out of touch. I thought about what I had expected and saw visions of a few small bluegill, maybe a bigger one then a small bass and then one of the three to four pounders that haunt my pond.  All in one outing, just like before, catch as many fish as possible in as short amount of time possible. Then it hit me.  That’s not what this was about.  That’s not what I was looking for.

 I thought about the fly I had tied on, a small caddis dry.  I stared at it in the waning light and cut it off, stashed it neatly in the small box I had and my eyes rested on the size 12 olive wooly bugger with a small dark colored bead head.  I walked back to the house and sat on the couch and tied a new leader and tippet and then tied on that olive wooly bugger.  The quintessential beginner fly.  How could I be so dumb, back to the basics right?  I was finally thinking right.

 The next evening after work I walked out and surveyed the pond as if I had never seen it before.  I knew all the dips and drop offs and where the big bass like to hang out.  I walked around the pond threw that olive wooly bugger.  Dragged it across drop offs and was rewarded with a few nibbles but no hook ups.  I tied on a small popper and then headed to another pond nearby.  I walked around this pond too, only I didn’t know this pond.  I had only fished it once or twice.  I avoided the spots I had fished and approached it with new eyes.  After a few prospecting casts I saw a floating grass edge that called my name.  I dropped the small popper next to it and was almost instantly rewarded with a tiny blow up and a palm sized bluegill hooked.  

Then another and another.

I left my camera in my pocket and just kept fishing.  It was awesome.  Cast after cast, bluegill after bluegill.  I felt like a kid again.  For the next 45 minutes or so I put a good old fashioned beat down on those fish.  I left them biting and moved on.  As I walked around the pond I saw a small point, near a tree and thought it looked fishy so I dropped the right on the point and as it sat there… the small rings dissipating, there was a boil and my fly was gone.  I set the hook with a sweeping strip set, my redfish brain kicked in, and the fight was on.  It wasn’t terribly long and the fish wasn’t terribly big but it was a bass.  I laid him down next to my rod and dropped my hat to pay homage to the Lowcountry Fly Shop, and released the beast to swim again.  

I took the long way home and thought about it.  I had gone to a basically new body of water, figured it out, at least a little, and landed fish all on my fly rod.  Probably 95% of my casts were right where I wanted them.  There was no great catch, no hoopla, no bragging fish. No one to impress.  Just a pleasant evening with my fly rod and a return to the feeling I missed when I fly fish.

I plan on stalking bigger bass, redfish and any other thing with gills I can stick on the end of a fly rod this year, but I don’t have any expectations.  I don’t care how big they are, how many they are.  I am going to get out and ENJOY fly fishing again.  

If you’d like to join me in my quest, head down to the Lowcountry Fly Shop in Mt. Pleasant, they are now located near Wild Wings on Coleman,  stop in talk to the boys, grab a handful of flies, maybe a new rod or reel and find yourself a neighborhood pond and get back to your own basics.