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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Angling experience forms memories for future replay

Last week I stood at the edge of a small beaver pond watching the surface being dimpled by the steady feeding trout.

Standing there in complete frustration, I tried one fly pattern after another in the hopes of finding just the right selection to match the bugs that were so obviously ringing the dinner bell for the trout dining just below the water surface. ...

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Last week I stood at the edge of a small beaver pond watching the surface being dimpled by the steady feeding trout.

Standing there in complete frustration, I tried one fly pattern after another in the hopes of finding just the right selection to match the bugs that were so obviously ringing the dinner bell for the trout dining just below the water surface.

Matching the hatch, as it is called, eluded me for the better part of two hours while I watched one of the longest trout feeding binges I’ve ever observed.

Try as I might, I was at a loss to identify whatever tiny insect that the trout were finding so succulent. Absolutely nothing I offered these feeding fish would tempt them into doing their part to complete the fishing cycle experience.

Finally at wits end, I tied on a gaudy creation that had been given to me by a fly-tying friend. It was an original that was so outlandish and wild that I dubbed it “The Parakeet.” A mix of chartreuse and bright yellow feathers, the only creature it honestly imitated was a miniature parakeet of psychedelic steroids. With this outrageous offering hanging on my leader you can well imagine my surprise when my first cast produced an explosive hit from a brookie that proved to be a good foot long when he was finally brought to the net.

Letting my vanquished adversary slip through my fingers back into the cold lair from whence he came, I sat down on a shoreside rock to spend a minute contemplating what had just transpired. How could success be so absolute with something that resembled nothing in a trout’s memory bank of good things to eat?

After trying everything that closely resembled the natural diet of a fish with tempting the palate of my quarry, I then cast upon the waters, a creation that practically assaults the sensibilities of good taste and color coordination and what happens – BAM! FISH ON!

To an angler this means success, a coming together of the angling experience to form memories for future replay. To me it formed part of the total mystery of fishing.

Success when fishing takes on many forms of tantalizing the ever-elusive finny ones into accepting whatever you happen to be offering on any particular occasion. To a kid, fishing a small farm pond, it can be a can of freshly dug worms to tempt the sunfish swimming around out there somewhere. To a bass fisherman, few things can beat a hook tethered shiner slowly swimming out amongst the lily pads. And you would be hard pressed to convince an older ice fisherman that there is anything better to tempt mid-winter fish than one of those frozen helgramites that he is thawing in the hollow of his cheek.

But what of the artificial world of plugs, lures, flies, streamers and plastic based squigglers that many anglers use to try and fool these fish. I agree that some of these “faux foods” really do their part to look, act and even feel like the real article – especially when fished by someone who knows the art of making it actually act like the real thing.

But then there are others such as my now infamous trout killer – “The Parakeet” that defies all logic as to why a fish with half a lick of sense would ever grab onto one as it gently floats along.

How many pickerel have dented their pearly white teeth by grabbing onto the business end of a flashy red and white daredevil? How much of what they consume in their environment is fire engine red and shock white? The query is oft proposed that most artificial bait is designed to catch the angler more than the fish. Those of us with tackle boxes the size of compact cars know better. Any angler worthy of the title is aware that you can never have the perfect lure on the end of your line. Backups are needed for a whole variety of unforeseen situations.

When the jitterbug doesn’t work, you should probably switch to a roostertail, or maybe even a devil’s horse (I may be going back a few years), but then that hot pink salty worm looks mighty right for the situation at hand.

The choices far outweigh the potential for fishing success. You could spend an entire lifetime just changing lures or flies to accomplish a relatively simple task – catching the fish. But then back to the beginning of this entry. If catching a fish is such an easy task, then why was I stumped for almost two hours before I caught my fish on my outrageous “Parakeet”?

I could have saved myself over an hour of arm waving and frustration. These questions are at the heart of why it is known as ‘fishing’ and not ‘catching’.

Just being there is what it’s all about.

Gordon Lewis can be reached at moonglow
farm@gmail.com.