“It’s just a small brown”
Last year I made the 10 hour trek to New York’s Salmon River. My feelings were mixed going into this trip. I had listened to story after story about how difficult these fish were to land and as you know, I’m still a newbie with a lot to learn so I was nervous and anxious. I had little to no expectations of landing a fish. This was more of a practice run of sorts for me.
I remember standing in the river while the water rushed by me in my waders threatening to wash me down river like all the rest of the dead king carcuses. With the stench of rotting fish in the air, I couldn’t decided if I was about to experience something incredibly amazing or incredibly insane.
After two LONG days of standing in the ice cold water waiting for one of these legendary fish to gobble my fly, I was starting to realize my expectations for this trip were spot on. That is until I hooked onto a HUGE fish. I had never had a bigger “Fish On”. My heart was pumping and I was shaking. I started to make my way to a shallow water to net my HUGE fish when I hear over my right shoulder, “Oh, it’s just a small brown”. Just a small brown? How could he say that? Who said that? Turns out it was the biggest fish I had ever caught. This was not “just a small brown”. I left there feeling hurt and angry that someone would burst my bubble sort to speak with a comment like that.
Fast forward one year. I was making the long drive back to NY and this time I had expectations. Hopes of actually catching fish. Maybe not a lot of them but at least one or two. A whole year’s worth of experience under my wading belt. This has got to help…right?
I get there to find the river blown out from all the recent rain. Thinking all my hopes of catching fish were floating down river, I began to lose hope and thought this whole thing was insane. But all that changed after a little secret intel. Before I knew it I was on my way to a complete game changer!
Here I was, standing in the water, in the same waders as the year before, yet this was different. And by different, I don’t mean the new wading belt I received from Fishewear! Though it is my new favorite piece of fishing gear!! It was different because I felt confident I was going to be able to land a fish this year. I knew I could do it if only I had the opportunity. Well, this was it. Opportunity was rushing by me, I just had to cast. And cast I did! My first cast…Fish on!! Fish after fish I brought to my hands. Much like the “small brown” I caught the year before only bigger! The rush was unlike anything I had experienced.
That day and the next two days were filled with nothing but fish. More fish than I could have ever imagined! This was a trip of a lifetime for me and I found I got very emotional about my experience. Not only had I caught fish… I caught big fish! Fish that I may never catch again. They were HUGE and they were beautiful, both browns and steelies and it changed how I felt about myself. For the first time I felt like I actually knew what I was doing, that I was progressing, learning and most importantly improving! I did it… I went to NY and landed fish!
Looking back at my two experiences in NY, I realize many things. I’ve realized that the gentleman who said “ it’s just a small brown” said it because it was just that, a small brown. He was making a truthful statement and wasn’t saying to be mean, hurtful or insensitive. His statement last year gave me drive to prove myself as a newbie. I am now thankful for that experience and allowed it to teach me that I CAN do this!! I can fly fish and I love it! I’ve improved tremendously over the last year thanks to my amazing fishing partner who continues to teach me even when he’s not fishing!
Lastly, I’ve walked away from this trip with strengthened focus and determination to be better and improve even more. It inspired me to start a list of places I want to fish and fish I want to catch. A bucket list of sorts. Imagine that people, a newbie with a fishing bucket list….
If I’ve figured out one thing over the last couple of years, it’s that fly fishing is a process and a progression that is complex to say the least. But it is in it’s complexity that I find I am both frustrated and fascinated.
Here is what I see when watching other fly fishermen…with an effortless cast of the fly rod the fly lands gracefully in the water. They strategically strip in line, the fish gobbles the fly and they set the hook. Methodically they work the fish into the net, carefully removing the hook from the fishes mouth and releasing it back into the water to be caught another day. Easy as that right?? Not so easy in actuality. For a newbie, like myself, I feel it’s more like this…. Standing on the boat with the wind blowing at me, with all my might I give the fly rod my best effort and intentions and watch my fly line tangle as it blows straight back at me. Fearing for my life I do the most instinctual thing possible, close my eyes and throw an arm up to protect myself from the incoming fly. After a 5-10 minute untangling session I toss my line back into the wind and get lucky. My fly plops onto the water like a weighted rock. I quickly try to gather the line to tuck under my finger, all the while my rod tip is pointing somewhere towards the sun. I quickly point it down towards the water and by this time my line has sunk to the bottom and the whooper I think I have hooked is actually the bottom of the river. With a few tugs and messy attempts at a roll cast, the boat is motored towards my fly. Once released from bottom I strip in my line and start the process all over again. This time hitting my back with my fly as I cast it and then it somehow lands way to the left of where I wanted it. At this point I’m looking a little more like a hot mess than a fly fisherman and hoping like hell no one is watching. Or even worse, taking a video for all to see on YouTube. Finally after some fine tuning and maybe a few tears of frustration I get the fly in the water close to where it should be and I actually get a fish on! I set the hook, lift my rod tip and somehow manage to get the fish to the awaiting net. Phew! Just like that, effortless, peaceful and serene…Good grief, are you kidding me? That was a lot of work and frustrating and hard!! There certainly should be wine involve somehow! How do they make it look so easy, effortless and FUN??
There are so many things you need to figure out and know. It’s not like spin fishing where you simply pick up a fishing pole, put a worm on the hook and throw it out as far as you can and wait for the bobber to go under. It’s way more than that. It’s casting, striping in line, how to hold the line, which fly to choose, hatches, bugs, how to fight the fish, which weight rod to use, what reel , what line…..the list goes on and on. And if that wasn’t enough they start throwing things at you like dry flies, top water, nymphing. What the? I find this to all be a little overwhelming. Yet I want more. More time on the water, more fish, more time to tie flies, more knowledge.
So I have come to the conclusion that all of these things will come with time and experience. I won’t possibly learn it all in a season or two. I’ll have to tackle them one at a time. Fly selection and entomology are a work in progress. Rod, line and reel selection will come and as far as the terminology goes, I’m getting there. I’ve been know to mispronounced and misuse a term on occasion. I’m always good for a laugh or two.
Whether you’re new to fly fishing or an experienced fisherman, I hope you enjoy my stories. Stop back by for my next newbie adventure. I’m off to tie me some flies. Oh who am I fooling, I’m off to have a glass of wine! Stac
Hello everyone! As many of you know, Kevin is a fly fishing guide here in Maine. An amazing one at that. He is not only a great caster and angler but he is also incredibly knowledgable in all aspects of fly fishing. His passion is extremely contagious and it is one of the main reasons I started fly fishing. Recently Kevin asked me to start a blog for his website. He wanted me to write it from a women’s perspective. I was a little hesitant but after some thought, I agreed. So here I am, in all my glory!
Let me start off by telling you a little about myself. First things first, I’m a bit of a goofball and love to laugh so it’s likely you’ll see that come out a bit from time to time. I am a 40ish year old with three beautiful daughters, teenage daughters. They are the reason I drink wine…Kidding! Seriously, they make me laugh everyday. Each of them inspire me in different ways. I am truly grateful for them. I work full time at a country store and also have my own cleaning business. I thoroughly enjoy both my jobs. I was born and raised in Maine and couldn’t wait to “get out of here”. Well, I got away yet, here I am again. I grew up spin fishing with a worm and a bobber. I was hooked right from the get go. It wasn’t until I met Kevin though that I tried fly fishing.
I met Kevin several years ago and he told me he was a fly fishing guide. I didn’t know anyone who fly fished and certainly didn’t know anyone who guided. I was intrigued. Kevin would spend his lunch time tying flies at the store where I worked. It was the coolest thing to watch. I listened to his fishing stories and asked tons of questions. Before long I was dying to fly fish.
I have spent the last year and a half fishing with Kevin in various places for many different fish species. I have also had the pleasure of working a few fly fishing shows with him. All of which have been an absolute blast. In doing so I’ve been able to see many different aspects of fly fishing. From tying flies and trying out fly rods to bugs and casting lessons with Lefty Kreh.
Through all of this, there has been an unrelenting buzz about women in the fly fishing industry. At the show in Jersey they even had a special area just for women. So after some thought on whether or not I wanted to do a blog about fly fishing from a woman’s perspective, I’ve decided to indeed write a blog but instead write it from a different perspective. One of someone new to the fly fishing world and all that it entails. We can’t expect to become apart of or be included into a society, group or environment if we’re constantly singling ourself out. Yes I’m a woman, yes I fly fish….so! I’d rather talk about my experiences as someone new to fly fishing, the process of learning about casting, rods, reels, fly line and the list goes on and on. I hope you stay tuned to what comes next and enjoy my blog from a “Newbies” perspective!!