The Feel of a Fish

"Rising Trout"   Enamel and Acrylic on Glass

“Rising Trout”
Enamel and Acrylic on Glass

I caught a fish today.

It wasn’t just any fish, it was the largest I’ve ever caught.   It was a Brown Trout and I hooked it on a fly rod.    I’ve come to fly-fishing very late in life mainly due to the desire to share something that my husband, Jim Booth, loves.    Fly-fishing for him is the ultimate in relaxing.  As such he approaches it with the focus of a Zen master meditating.  It is a passion that is only exceeded by his love for his sons and for me.

I have a lot to learn in terms of technique and skill and I know I will never have the “visual poetry” of his casts.  His ease of casting and the softness of the fly landing in just the right spot for a perfect drift is something I’ll never get tired of observing.   That’s a level I never expect to reach partially because I tend to return to the “muscle memory” of fishing with a spin casting rod causing my fly to ‘plop’ onto the water, likely spooking every potential catch in the pool.   Another obstacle is my tendency to focus on where I want the fly to be to the exclusion of all else.  That includes the overhanging limbs of Mountain Laurel or other vegetation behind and around me on narrow North Carolina and Virginia streams.

I am the queen of snagging fishing flies.  I don’t just snag leaves, twigs and wind my leader around limbs.   I likely have the world-record for getting hooked in, among and under the rocks of streams.  The places we fish are challenging both for their narrow corridors and/or their uneven and boulder-strewn terrain.  But those are also the places that don’t get fished a lot for those very reasons – they aren’t the easy access areas.  At times it can feel like you’re rock climbing with one hand tied behind your back (the hand trying to maintain your grip the none-too-inexpensive fly rod) and without the ‘safety’ of ropes, Carabiners and Cams.

I’m relating all of this to help explain my reaction when I hooked that large trout.  Jim had encouraged me up a steep area with the promise, “you’ll be rewarded for getting to that pool”.  As he coached me and stood by watching my technique I groaned when I snagged my fly on a rock.  But in the next breath I’m exclaiming, “It’s not a rock, it’s a fish….it’s a fish!”  I almost laugh out loud even now thinking about it.  So I caught a fish today and learned the difference in feel of being snagged under a rock and hooking a large, wild trout.

But the highlight of my day was not the catch – it was Jim’s grin as he netted the fish for me.


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