Wildwood Outfitters Blog and Fishing Report
There's a saying that goes something like "the best time to fish is whenever you can." I believe that to a certain degree, but there's something about fishing with time constraints that is panicky and exhilarating. Yesterday there was an opportunity to fish a spring creek in Central PA for about an hour on the way home from New York. Before the fishing starts it seems like a great idea. Pop in, catch a few fish, head home, the end! Unfortunately, things are never quite that easy.
Don't ask me to explain it, but there's a level of anxiousness and panic felt while rigging up that is unlike anything else. There's this irrational worry and fear of someone pulling into the lot and jumping ahead that stresses me out to no end. Despite being able to count on one hand the number of times this has actually happened, it's as reliable a feeling as ever on a fishing trip. This is exasperated on a time shortened excursion like the one today. It feels like things that NEVER happen all happen at once when I'm trying to make every second count. The tippet-fly knot executed tens of thousands of times all of sudden takes 4 tries and it's only after the fact that I realize I've skipped a guide while fishing the floating line through my rod. Spectacular start!
After what seemed like hours (in all actuality about 5 minutes) everything is finally locked and loaded and ready to hit the water. In a time sensitive situation such as this it's imperative to fish only the prime water, or is it? It's impossible to tell how many fish have been caught in the water overlooked by other anglers, but for some reason I forget that today. "Oh hey look it's a noticeably fishy spot that 100 other guys have already hit today, let's start there!" Doesn't make any sense, but it's the plan of attack. The drifts start out confident and crisp. Of course there's fish to be caught here, why wouldn't there be? Well the first few drifts turn into 5 minutes and that turns into the mindless sequence of drift-drift-step upstream, drift-drift-step upstream. Confidence is still high until a glance at the watch reveals half of the allotted time has been used with nary a suspect indicator bounce!!
Now is when things really start to get interesting. Deep down years of experience has taught me that slow and steady wins the race and taking a methodical approach is what's best suited for success in situations like this. All of that sound logic and reasoning goes out the window as the realization sets in that there's only 10 minutes left before it's time to leave. Instead of carefully working upstream I plow ahead cherry picking the "best" pockets and hoping for the best. There's no changing of weight or adjusting of indicator depth, only a frantic shotgun style approach. 5 minutes left. It's now or never. Well, that's not really true. I know that if I stretch it out another 10 minutes that time can be made up by driving extra fast on the Interstate home. As I'm mentally sorting this all out I hardly even notice the indicator slowly swimming against the current.
The instinctual jerk of a hook set and some quick reel revolutions and there's a modest 10 inch brown trout confusedly treading water in the net. Success! Against all odds (well, some odds at least) man has conquered beast. Only have an hour to fish? HA! Going to forget everything you know about fly fishing? PFFT! Big Whoop! The forces of time and my own foolishness are no match for me. I've taken a difficult task, made it more difficult, and still came out ahead. I must be the greatest fly fisher in all the land! In truth, I just got very lucky. I did everything wrong and still found myself watching a trout swim away from my outstretched hand. That's the way it happens sometimes. Do everything fish, fish like a fool, get rewarded! The only comfort taken is in the hope that the next time there's a time crunch, a more logic based approach takes hold. Alas, that's only wishful thinking.