In an effort to get these posts written up and out there (I’ve got about 9 completely undocumented trips I want to tell you about!) I’ll keep this short and to the point. Edit: I’ll try and keep this short and to the point. Already I’m rambling.

Rogue River guide Rob Vink

Rob took me back to the good old Rogue River; after demonstrating proper fly casting technique for me, I butchered it entirely, but yet he put a fly rod in my hand and told me where to cast. It’s a small miracle I even made it to where we were standing in the river, after tripping over every rock and slipping on every weed along the way. Rob moved through the woods like some kind of cougar, he navigated the rocks in the river like some kind of river creature. Although I followed the same path he took through the water, every step or so I almost ended up face down in the river. He claimed it was his experience, but I think maybe he had magic wading boots.

After a few tries, I somehow managed to get the tiny little dry fly to land kind of where Rob told me to put it. It was so strange, all that line flying around all over the place; the little tiny fly indistinguishable to me among all the other stuff floating on the surface of the water. Eventually I got the hang of it, kind of. I created huge tangles of the strangely thick and colored line every other cast, got the fly caught on trees, and generally felt like a total newbie. I was a total newbie; just like when I first started fishing a couple years back. It was frustrating and exciting.

I did my best to keep up with Rob’s cat-like navigation of the river. I didn’t fall in, but I came extremely close every few steps. We made it to a spot, Rob told me where to cast, I did my best to get the fly there… and then… there was a fish on the end of my line.

And I didn’t know how to reel it in!

I asked Rob how to reel it in, holding the line with my left hand, the fish just splashing around. I wondered if it wondered what I was waiting for. Following his instructions, I pulled the weird colorful line with my left hand while he got out his fancy trout net. In a few seconds the fish was netted, and I had landed – with Rob’s help – my first fish on the fly!

First fish on the fly!

It was awesome- when I hooked the little rainbow trout it felt like I was grabbing it with my arm. When it did it’s thing and tried to swim away, I had the sensation I was holding it by a string. Which I kind of was.

I couldn’t believe that smart little fish could, out of all the stuff floating on the surface of the water in that scum line, pick out my fly and identify it as possible food.

I also couldn’t believe I caught three more in the next hour or so- on the fly! As we waded, I practiced my back cast. That contributed to my constant tripping, but I think it also made my casting better. Pretty soon it was dark, Rob caught some trout too, and we headed back to the truck after a successful trip.

The coda to my little fly fishing prelude, if you’ll let me get away with writing something like that, is the fly rod and reel combo I bought when I got back to Illinois. After spending an hour trying to make sense of all the new terms- backing, fly line, tapered leader, tippet – and learning some new knots, Claire and I headed to the pond. Since she encouraged (read: tolerated) my purchase of a fly rod, she made the first few casts on it. It was tough, due to the weeds everywhere and the scum all over the pond. Pretty soon she switched to a spinning rod and I manned the fly setup.
First cast, my dry fly hit the water nice and light, I saw a bluegill come up and take it, swim away, and it was on! I reeled in the line with my hand, and there it was: my first fish on my first fly rod.
There! Can you see it?
I caught a bunch more ‘gills, and even got a bass! As the sun set, we kept on casting. Once it started to get dark I realized why I’d never heard of night-fly-fishing. But we kept catching fish.
First bass on the fly
While I struggled to control my fly line as the sun set, Claire caught two nice bass on a texas-rigged chigger craw I set up for her. Although I caught more fish by number, she caught more fish by weight. I’m fine with that arrangement.
Claire and her nice bass

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