Golden browns: a sight fishing story

I wrote about the days fishing here, now I would like to talk about a moment. Sight-fishing it is the moments that really stand out. The moments that stick in the memory. The hours of walking and scanning quickly fade from the memory. But the moments. The moments, they stay with you for a long time. The formulation of a plan, the slow and deliberate execution. The pay off when a well thought out plan comes together. Thats what its all about. Moments.

This story is about two fish. We spotted the first of those fish as we slowly made our way along the bank, searching every inch of water for shadows, movement, fins, any hint that may betray the otherwise immaculate camouflage of brown trout. Unlike many of the other fish during the day, the first fish wasn’t hard to spot. We spotted her from 50 meters or so away. Close to the surface a lot of the time she stood out like a sore thumb. The odd rise making her all the more apparent. Once we had spotted her we edged our way closer, positioning ourselves 20 meters or so away while we formulated a plan. We watched. The fish was doing a beat, rising occasionally but mainly taking nymphs. Every now and then the whites of her mouth would flash as she devoured another morsel. As we watch, just ahead of where she was working her beat we noticed another fish, doing more or less the same thing. Whoever took the first shot would have to be careful so that we could hopefully convert both sighted fish into hook ups. It was Perrins turn to take the shot. He tied on a dry fly and crawled up to rock not far from the fish, taking cover behind a tussock to make the cast. A perfect cast ahead of the fish produced an inquisitive look but in the end she rejected the fly. I snuck up and passed Perrin the other rod, already rigged up with a black unweighted wooly bugger. Perrin waited for the right moment to present itself and again made the cast. On the first pass the fish missed the fly and then we both lost sight of her.

“Did she spook”

“I don’t know man, I can’t see her, don’t move and just wait a bit and we will see if we can spot her”

After what seemed like and eternity, but in reality was more like 15 seconds she materialised, she had continued doing her beat. She was now once again approaching Perrin’s fly. A small twitch of the fly and she noticed it. She accelerated towards it, her mouth opened, a white flash. Perrin struck and she exploded from the water. He quickly used the opportunity to steer her downstream. After being coaxed in that direction she bolted on an impressive run. Soon though the fight was over, Perrin guided her into the net. I gave him the net and grabbed the camera. A few seconds later she was once again free, darting towards the weeds for safety.

The story in photos- presentation
The story in photos- presentation
Hook set and subsequent expolsion
Hook set and subsequent explosion
Leading the fish downstream to avoid spooking the other target
Leading the fish downstream to avoid spooking the other target
The result
The result
The revival
Dunking
The release
The release

It was my turn now. We scanned ahead for signs of the second fish. It was easily sighted. Thankfully it hadn’t spooked. So far so good. This time we had less cover. A row of bushes ran along the edge of the stream. They would work wonderfully for the approach, but to make the presentation I would need to be out in the open. I snuck up using the bushes and lay in wait. I stripped some line. I was ready. Like the last fish this guy was doing a consistent beat. That was going to give me my opportunity. Every 30-40 seconds he would complete his circle. Sometimes he would rise three or four times in succession, the rest of the time he was busy eating things subsurface, the white of his mouth flashing regularly. On his third pass since I had taken up position I took my opportunity. I waited till he started heading away from me. I quickly darted out from cover and into the open, now protected by being out of the fishes field of view. I quickly presented the fly a few feet ahead of the fish. It was the same fly Perrin had used to great effect minutes before. The fly landed and started sinking. One small twitch was all it took to get the fishes attention. He saw the fly, accelerated and ate. Once again he flew out of the water and made a spirited first run, but the fight was pretty quickly over and he was in the net. A few happy snaps and back he went.

The other target. A gorgeous gold buck. Pity about the angler...
The other target. A gorgeous slab of spotted gold. Pity about the angler…

Over the course of that day there were dozens of moments like that. Each sticks in the memory. Little vignettes, each unique, each special. In a nutshell thats whats so great about sight-fishing. The moments. Its the meticulous planning, the nerves before you make the first cast, its the joy when you execute a plan adequately and it looks like it just might work. Its that addictive, nervous but excited rush microseconds before the fish is about to eat. The deep satisfaction you get when it all comes together. Its the uniqueness of every opportunity. Each a short story in itself. Of course, not all of those stories have happy endings like this one. There is the other side to it, the frustration, over analysis and heartbreak when things don’t go to plan. Those also stick in the memory. They sting, each a mini tragedy. They are the ying to successes yang. But that is part of the joy. The successes are only so sweet because of the multitude of fluffed presentations, shitty casts and spooked fish that have come before. Those moments of heartbreak accentuate the good times. In the end sight-fishing is all about moments.

Cheers

Hamish

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

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