Successful night of fly fishing is always a good one

This week a friend and fellow fly fishing enthusiast stopped to pay me a visit at my office. He came to show me the new custom rod he recently picked up from a noted builder. After a short conversation about the rod while I put it together to give it a proper inspection, he asked if I had been out after trout yet this spring.

I told him I had the kids out for mentored youth and the opener. While I had taken an absurd amount of trout out of my net during those two days, none were hooked by me. In fact, up to that point I had not attempted a solo cast.

That amount of trout talk was enough motivation to finally get me out on the water. It just so happened that night was a very rare occurrence at the Knepp house — there was not a single baseball or soccer game or practice on the itinerary, nor any ballet lessons.

Since I was not planning on fishing that evening, nothing was prepared for me when I arrived home late that afternoon.

I grabbed my waders and boots and tossed them in the back of my truck. Next I made sure my chest pack had enough flies, leaders and floatant for a night on the creek. Finally, I picked which rod would accompany me on my first trip of the season. I selected my favorite rod — an 8-foot, 6-inch, 5-weight Sage.

I decided to travel a little further from home that I typically do and fish my favorite catch and release section in our region. After arriving where I normally park, I walked through the woods for a while until arriving at my favorite hole on the creek.

While I have had good nights on this stream this early in the year in the past, I had low expectations. The water and air temperature were both rather cold, and recent rain made water levels higher than the average for late April.

After arriving at my favorite spot on the creek, I sat on a log at the edge of the water. I put together my four-piece rod and ran my line through the eyelets as I carefully watched and listened for any activity from feeding trout.

Bugs were few and far between as I sat patiently and tied on a fly that was likely going to be my best option for the night based on years of fishing experience.

Eventually, one trout did come to the surface to feed. However, it only rose once before the water became silent again. I quietly entered the water and waded to the area where I saw the fish.

I started casting, intentionally trying to throw short of where I thought the fish was located. It is better to do this and go a little longer each time than throw over top of the fish on your first attempt, especially when they are not continuously feeding.

On my third drift, I saw an open mouth coming toward the surface. Unfortunately, that excitement had me pull a second too early and miss my first trout of the year. I shook my head, laughing as I stood in the middle of the creek. I had told my friend earlier that day I typically miss my first one of the year.

With no other trout feeding, I was a little grumpy. I thought I may have missed my only chance at netting a trout that evening.

I went back to my log and watched in both directions, hoping another fish would give me a chance at redemption.

A few bugs started to appear and some trout showed their location. It was not a feeding frenzy that anglers dream of and I have experienced at that spot. The fish would only come up once or twice before the action stopped.

Seeing this, I knew I would have to be mentally marking those locations and get into position to try and connect on my first trout of the year.

To be honest, this is the type of fly fishing I prefer to do. I usually stay at one area and watch up and down the water. When a trout is regularly feeding, I slowly get into position and make a cast at that fish.

This is the style I was taught from my father as a kid and what I continue to this day. I find this method a lot better than the one I typically see from others when they just arrive at a hole and constantly cast hoping for a strike. I feel that type of activity pushes trout down from feeding.

After two or three drifts over my second trout, I had my first hook-up of the year. It put up a descent battle before the brown trout was quickly in and out of my net as it swam back to the safety of the fast water where it had emerged.

At that point I was happy that my trip resulted in a fish. My attitude gauge was a lot closer to pessimistic than optimistic, but it definitely felt good to successfully enjoy my favorite outdoor activity.

Luckily, action did pick up once the seal was broken.

Every five to 10 minutes another trout would rise. I would get into position and try to add to my catch total. The night slowly turned into a memorable one as a steady number of single trout entertained me until I finally called it quits as the last light of the evening disappeared.

My finally tally was 12 trout, including nine browns, that were landed and released to fight another day. The entire walk back to the parking area I pleasantly revised the night’s action. My expectations were not high, but it turned into a great first evening on the water.

Any time spent on the water is good in my book. But when you can enjoy a night on the water when you can constantly get a good drift with the right fly, it is hard to beat.

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Zach Knepp writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.

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