How do you know you're a fisher when you aren't fishing? Let me tell you about a recent adventure that I had
...It used to be that when I saw a big fish in a small creek that allowed no way to land it or play it, I'd cast anyway. We're talking about a fish over, say, 18 inches. If I hooked-up, naturally the fish would jet downstream and be off in a few moments because the terrain made it impossible to follow more than ten feet. Of course, I'd feel pretty stupid losing a nice fish, a nice fly, a bunch of tippet--to say nothing about my sense of humor.
What I'm trying to say is, you can get to a point in your fishing where the best strategy is to sit down and realize you have no strategy. You can sit this one out, walk on to more strategic water, or try rethinking a few things. In this particular case, I didn't even put a fly in the water when I saw the large brown trout showing its back in weeds and muck impossible to float a line and fly. So I got on my knees and snuck up until my head parted the tall grass and I was peering at the slow currents. Quite frankly, I was more concerned about getting up close and personal with the snake that crossed my path as I was approaching my perfect hiding place...I think that the snake probably was saying to me, "Who the heck are you and What the heck are you doing down here?"
I dragged the tip of my fly rod behind me, and pulled it forward slowly until the tip was even with my head. Then I pulled the fly out inch by inch, which, as some of you may know who get obsessed about small creek fishing, is no easy task. In a case like this, you need to have the leader rolled up on the reel and the fly hooked on the tip top. Then when in position on your stomach, you gently work the fly and a foot or two of tippet out with your fingers. Standard operating procedure for near-trout experiences. I very slowly worked a few feet of the rod out and began dangling the fly over the water, with enough desiccant to float a battleship (wait . . . they already float). Did I mention that I had cut the hook off. Sorry. You can't play this game with a working hook, or you'll be back at the start, chasing a losing battle. Beside, if you catch a small trout this way, you'd have to back out of position and ruin all hope of interesting a large trout.
When everything was in place, I let the wind grab the fly and dangle it above the suspect fish's liar, letting it dance with the wind on the water like a caddis fly. After a few moments my mysterious brown trout rose from the depths and took the fly on the surface and dove back down--except that the fly popped out, as designed. I kept doing this until the big brown stopped rising. Then I had fun with some smaller bows, who were much more willing to jump higher than the brown, even with a fly that was getting a little water-logged and slimmed. The brown didn't seem too willing to jump out of the water, but the bows, I learned seemed quite happy to jump 6 inches out of the water. One almost got the fly at 8 inches. It was amazing!
I'm not sure it is fly fishing. In fact, without a functioning hook, I'm not sure it is fishing at all. It is more like "Trout Olympics". And it is more fun than a barrel of monkeys (Note to self: work on more consistent metaphors).