Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Learning to Fly Fish

When I was first learning to fly fish. All I used was dry flies. The only flies I knew really were a royal coachman, mosquito, ant, and adams. I didn’t read many books. I never talked to many fly fishermen about what they were using. I always felt that was kind of taboo. Now, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. I love the fly-fishing experience and the idea of finding exactly what the fish are biting on, but I also like to catch fish and not take all day to do so. If someone is catching fish, I’d like to know what they caught them on. When I first moved to NC. My Fianc├ęs brother told me about how he liked to fly fish. I told him about all of my spin fishing experience in the Sierra’s. He explained to me he hadn’t had much luck with trout. I told him the streams in NC can’t be much different then the streams in California. We kept talking and I eventually said "I can probably catch more fish on a fly rod then you." He decided to take me up on that challenge and we went to a creek he knew about. On the drive there, I looked at all the water we were passing and kept commenting on all the places that looked like they could hold fish. The water did look similar to creeks in the Sierra Nevada. We parked and got our gear ready. He gave me a fly and he watched me scramble down to the creek. The water was clear and I looked around for fish but couldn’t see any. It was kind of strange to me, the water looked the same as the sierra’s but no fish were anywhere. I cast to all of the spots I felt were likely to hold fish but wasn’t able to even get a bite. I know I wasn’t doing something right as well because my fly would never stay on top of the water. I figured I just needed some floatant. I went to talk my buddy and asked him for some. As I was walking up to him I saw he hooked a nice little rainbow. As he was unhooking it, he saw me walking up and said “any luck?” I told him no and explained that I can’t seem to keep my fly on the surface. He said “It’s not supposed to be on the surface it’s a nymph.” I said “what’s a nymph? He explained to me what it was and I learned there was a whole new dimension to fly fishing I had no idea about.

I always thought fly-fishing was a surface thing. In the movies you always see someone making a delicate cast on calm water and a fish always rises, taking the fly right away. I figured that’s how it is. Now I was learning about nymphs and streamers and what they were supposed to imitate. I’ve always been interested in science and biology so learning this stuff was fun for me. It was another excuse to be nerdy. It took awhile for me to understand the whole cycle of different bugs; caddis, mayfly, stonefly and midges. It was harder to tell what’s hatching then I thought as well. I found a neat trick one day. There was a nice mayfly hatch going off and they kept flying near my face. I always wear a camouflage hat that has mesh in the back. I took that hat off to shoo away the bugs and when I put my hat back on I could feel something crawling in my hair. After freaking out about what was in my hair I saw that it was a mayfly. I then realized when I swatted at the mayflies with my hat they would get stuck in the mesh. That became my bug net from then on. It’s hard to get into thick hatches in the mtns. At least it was for me in the years I lived there. I never was in the legendary hatches you hear about. Probably one of the best ones was a big hex hatch. I believe they were green drakes but I never kept one to verify it. I was with a guy learning to fly fish. I never heard them hatching in the Watauga River so when I first saw them, I was like what are those, crane flies? I caught some in my hat and instantly I saw they were huge mayflies, green with big orange eyes and spinner tails. I showed my buddy but he had no idea what a mayfly was let alone a drake. Many of them would be stuck together passing me trying to mate. I figured that night would probably be one of the best fishing nights of the year. I had never fished at night and it is pretty spooky at night on the water. I regret not going but honestly I did not have the gear for it. I've seen various hatches since then, big golden stoneflies, sulphur mayflies and caddis. I still have never been in a hatch that was going off so much that you could barely breathe without inhaling bugs.

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