Fly fishing has a life of it’s own. The absolute craze of the now-generation; ecologically pure, supremely challenging and self-satisfying. In fact, don’t dismiss the concept that, before long, these new world folks will have worked the technology to be able to text from the handle of the Loomis fly rod.
New world order, indeed! But to the everyday angler out there slugging it out with a vintage rod and reel, the “flyer” deems fly fishing closer to an art form than to the simple everyday fishing.
To amplify, let’s make a comparison from a couple of views: The everyday angler can be satisfied with a rod that has a missing guide and a reel whose bail only naps closed when it wants to while the “flyers” equipment has to be tony right down to the cleanliness of the line. Then too, the angler is satisfied with a cast that lands in the general vicinity of the target while the “flyer” is infuriated if the cast lands a few millimeters from the intended target.
And, finally, with tongue in cheek, we profess that where the angler seriously seeks a fish to land and deliver it to the dinner table, the flyer is more satisfied with great technique; much like a golfer who draws to par on his or her round. Neither take anything home except pride and memories.
But then what happens when you run into a “flyer” that wants both — the great technique and the take home.
Had it happen a couple of weeks back and that’s our story for this week. Early fall afternoon and I’m cleaning the boat after what has become an infrequent charter trip laid down to the economy issues as well as media over reach on the expanse of the oil spill and this nice couple appear boatside with a distinctive question.
“Do you do fly?” In busier times, I might have directed the questioner to a competitor more attuned to fly fishing. But this time the answer was affirmative with a disclaimer that; ”boat is not ideal for fly, but certainly have fly experience and would be willing to do a fly charter.” It worked and the couple booked a trip for later in the week.
Our morning dawned nice and bright with a solid incoming tide and, above all, some very clear Gulf water. The game plan was, being we were just at the start of the tide, we would work ladyfish and jacks up near the surface at Capri Pass. Later, as we gained water, we would move up into Addison Bay and work the backwater for some speckled trout.
You couldn’t have asked for better conditions, as we unpacked the fly rod and dropped all the antennas, and set up midway out in the Capri Pass. Our fly rodder moved to the isolation of the front of the boat and began his artistic casts. His wife, who also had a yearning for a little fishing, set up in the back of the boat but with spinning tackle and bottom rigs tipped with shrimp.
For our “fly guy” this was an ideal set up. Ladyfish and jacks were driving baitfish to the top of the water in an abandoned frenzy. The water literally boiled. Even with hapless casts the “flyer” was hooking into racing ladyfish that spent the retrieve leaping and pulling with reckless abandon. The fly rig would hook ’em OK but they would pull off before they got boatside. Great action that kept our “flyer” totally engaged.
The wife, however, was dragging her bait across the bottom
disregarding urgings of a better technique and could have been crowned the Catfish Queen hands down that morning. Every catch had whiskers!
About mid-morning we had enough water to move to the second phase of our trip up in Addison Bay chasing speckled trout. No more just catch and release; he wanted a few of these specs for dinner.
The water up in Addison was not quite as clear as it was in the pass and we both voiced concern as to the prospect of good action. There were two other flats boats working over the grass beds with spinning gear and they both were hooked up — good sign — as we settled in on the lee side of the flat.
We started our drifts and our flyer was casting long straight casts going with the wind. His technique was good, allowing the fly to drop down just a tad and then using a twitching movement to simulate bait motion.
It took a good 20 minutes to drift across the grass flat and as we powered up, you could see the disappointment written on our angler’s face. His wife, now having given up the catfish game, was trying to encourage her husband. What made the disappointment even worse was that as idled past the other boats they both were unhooking nice size trout.
As we maneuvered to set up for another pass, he changed his rig to a heavier sinking leader and tied on a fly that he claimed resembled a shrimp.
He set up in the bow again and we cut the engine as we went into the second drift. Long casts and deft retrieves, twitching all the way weren’t getting anything. Bummer.
Now, fly enthusiasts are the purist of the pure and that hand tied little bundle of tinsel, yarn and feathers called a fly was what you caught fish on. Period. No additives; no alterations. Period. But the people in the other boats were whooping it up now; the trout fishing was hot and our flyer (and his wife) were in anguish and tiring.
So I did it.
I asked to see the fly and as they both watched I slid a tiny shrimp tail onto the hook. They said nothing. I said “I won’t tell a soul; go ahead and cast.”
You already know what happened don’t you?
I’m sure they enjoyed their trout dinner that evening without thinking about that tad of shrimp.
Ain’t fishin great?