Dave Kalinowski photo
Paramount-coming before all others in importance.
That's what I always think about hooking the first fish of the year. Its important only in the fact that you want to get it out of the way, get it done, put it behind you. Move on with the year. It stands to affirm that you can still swing and present a fly well and that fish do indeed like to eat a swinging fly. Sometimes I wonder.........
That first fish can sometimes set a precedent or pace for the year or it can be the kiss of death. It can establish new found hope in old patterns that have fallen out of favor. It can be the proving grounds for new patterns and dressings that have been rolling around in your head for months, sometimes years.
I am fishing a lot more traditional flies lately and enjoy the feeling of fishing blind again. After fishing skaters and surface presentations it's good to just let it swing sometimes without working or watching the fly. Fishing skaters has taught me a ton about what my fly does out there in the currents. It has shown me the subtle nuances of different runs and when to mend and when not to mend. In short,fishing dry flies has made me a better wet fly fisherman. Now, when fishing a wet. those factors come into play as I know how my wet fly will react to any line manipulation I give to it.
Now to our story............
........The wet fly dropped with a small splash at the end of a downstream angle cast. Landing right in the foam line, it came under tension immediately, the head of the fly came to the top, drawn up by the riffle hitch right behind the eye. The fly arced through the chop for 20 feet, the riffle hitched head cutting a path and leaving a small V wake.Then I saw a smallish, almost imperceptible rise just to the outside of the fly. A fish had just broken the surface with his nose only, coming up to check the waking bug that caught his eye. I let the fly continue to swing hoping that his interest was not yet piqued. I lost the fly in the wave train of the mid-tail-out. The fading rays of the day casting glare that I couldn't see through. The fly ripped through the tail-out, accelerated by a line belly that I did not mend out. The fly was now smoking through the last third of the swing.....
The grab comes as a shock to my brain and my gear, the fish eating the fly and turning for the tail and back door in a flash. The Farlex reel payed out line in the highest RPM mode it has. The fish left the pool and headed for the next. I stood my ground and fought the fish as hard as I possibly could. After 45 seconds, I get the fish back into the run. It's a big early fish, over 10 lbs. It swam upstream of me and I saw how beautiful it was. Wild as the river and absolutely silver/white with not a mark on it. Again, I pulled on the fish as hard as I dare and he reluctantly came close. I start to look for a deep place to land him and he has none of it, scurrying from the shallows as soon as his belly touched a rock. Back out the tail in an instant, far into the next run. There is no chasing this fish and again I made a stand. Its land it or break it off. The fish chooses first and he wrapped the line on a rock and severed the leader in a split second. The whole battle might have been 4 minutes.
The first fish is out of the way, it was not a landed fish but I could care less with these early fish. Sometimes you get beat, its OK.
Please be mindful of low flows and high water temps this summer. Get a thermometer and use it. Everyone has their personal limits. Some won't fish if temps are over 65. That's great! Know your own personal limits and also the upper limits that prevent safe fighting and handling of fish. When temps approach 66-68 in the afternoon you may want to go up Steamboat Creek and have a swim, or snorkle through a favorite run. Landing fish in the upper 60's can be fatal to a fish even with a short fight and good handling skills. Fish in the mornings and be careful in the afternoons. To avoid the high temps of evening fish higher in the river where temps may be a bit cooler. Think about it and do the right thing please. This is paramount for these wild fish while we see these high daytime temps. Thanks, its gonna take all of us being responsible and setting a good example to limit harm to wild fish.
Good fishing to you all this summer!
Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast -- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 RSV)