see if WEB MASTER TUCKER HOTTES finally broke down and bought that camera!
It was a beautiful Saturday morning on the Lackawanna, and my fishing buddy and I were wading into the cool, low water on opening day of trout season in The 570. While we’d been out a few times already this year getting used to our equipment, this was the first time we were angling in earnest. We worked the river for a while, noting a few different features on this particular section of river. A few other people testing the waters on such a fine morning showed up, so we started to go even farther up. As my friend started working a pool at the junction of a small stream and the river, I crossed to the other side where the bed widened and the water ran slow and low over the smooth rocks.
A hatch was just starting (when insects start emerging and swarming around over the water), and for the first time all day we could see some fish rising to snatch some of the bugs landing on the surface of the river. I did a mental check of all my gear, confirmed that the dry fly I had tied to my line looked something like the bugs in the air, and ran down the technical aspects of the approach to the spot I saw fish doing their thing. The idea is to make your artificial fly look like a real bug landing so you can trick the fish into taking it, so I started casting to a spot just upstream and mending my line to make the “blue-wing olive” on the end look like any other bug drifting down the river.
I wasn’t doing terribly. I was casting into a spot along the bank, and then one mistimed cast put my line in a tree — if you’ve ever used a fly rod, you know this is one of the biggest frustrations one can encounter in the field. Cutting line is one of the exact last things you ever want to have to do, so what ensues is usually a delicate (and often futile) attempt to extract the less-than-hair-thin piece of line from its new home in the tree. Fortunately, my much more experienced friend was able to help me get it down and back on the water.
A few minutes later, the gods of angling and fish-delivering karma smiled on him for his good deed, when the shouts of a successful angler and the splashes of a fighting brown trout pierced the air. I felt the mutual tinge of excitement and jealousy as I quickly reeled in my line and secured my rod to assist in any way I could. “Please tell me you’ve got a camera,” he shouted, and my mind went immediately to last week’s column — and naturally, I still hadn’t made that purchase. Gingerly, I retrieved my aging smartphone from my pocket and started shooting video while I held the thing in a vice grip mere feet from a potential watery grave. I was able to get a decent few seconds of the ensuing fight on video — enough to capture the moment.
In the end, our lack of a landing net and an equipment failure (a heat-srhinkable connector for the fly line-to-leader connection didn’t hold up — lesson learned on that product) let the fish free, so it can’t quite go down in the books as a landed fish, but it was as close as you could want, and a heck of a lot closer than I got that day. Congrats to my buddy, Joel, and next time we’ll have an actual camera. You know I ordered that shit the minute I got home that afternoon!