Gone fishin’ with WEB MASTER TUCKER HOTTES
On the river again
I’ve been way too dry (literally) for way too long, and for almost two weeks the new pair of wading boots I bought sat in a box next to my fishing gear taunting me. With the record-breaking heat and massive thunderstorms we’ve had, river conditions have been alternating between too low and too high/crazy. It’s been bumming me out. Last Wednesday, I got home and it was “only” 81 degrees. I looked at the water levels and outflow for the Lackawanna online, and things actually looked OK, so I gathered up my gear and headed to one of the spots I came to like a while back.
The water level in this particular spot was actually a little higher than the last time I had visited, and it was running pretty quick in spots. I was planning on this being a short trip mostly for practice, and to try out the new footwear. My fishing buddy wasn’t home, so I went out solo and decided to head upstream instead of down to the deeper water we hadn’t yet fished — I figured it was better to go with the familiar without anyone else around.
It was still pretty hot out, so I tried a few spots and kept moving upstream putting in a few casts here and there. I didn’t see any visible rises, or evidence of any activity at all (though a few hatches were coming up sporadically). Still, I was more or less content to practice and get a feel for the new boots. It took a little time to work the kinks out, but I started to feel good about my casts after a while.
I moved to a spot where I could get a nice back cast for some throws upstream to work on distance and accuracy. After a few to an unremarkable little riffle, I got one that was just about perfect — a nice loop, good distance, and unrolling perfectly to let the dry fly float gently to the surface. I was pleased with myself and about to immediately start stripping in the line instead of letting it drift to try for another good practice cast.
Suddenly the fly disappeared and an enormous fight started! I was afraid I’d never land the fish being alone and without a net. I was able to haul him in, though — one of the biggest Browns in the river.
In all seriousness, I did see the fish hit the fly, and I set the hook — and then almost nothing happened. I thought at first I was imagining things, because there really was no tension on the line, but as I started reeling I could feel the little tug and sway. I pulled him in more than reeled him in, convinced it was a minnow or something else ridiculous, but when I got him close I could see it was a legit baby brown trout. Nothing terribly exciting, but still a solid six inch fish.
After I grabbed a quick photo and removed the hook, he wriggled out of my hand and made a break for it. Maybe in a year or two I’ll catch up to him again when he has a little more meat on the bones, or at the very least pick up a parent or older sibling. It wasn’t anything grandiose, but there it is, folks — my first official trout catch in the Lackawanna. It was a good achievement flying solo, with a dry fly (Tan Caddis, for the curious), and in warm water … but on the other hand it was a tiny fish caught mostly by luck. I’ll take it though, and am looking forward to many more.