Lately I've been much more intrigued with finding big fish or fishing tricky water filled with picky trout. A few of my favorite Northern California spots can be just that. Last weekend, I spent two days trying to get into some larger lake run fish that use this river as important spawning habitat. With a good gravel bottom, deep pools, and dark undercuts, there's a lot of room for big fish to hide and create the next generation.
The challenge of finding big fish and getting them to fall for feathers wrapped around a hook is a huge draw for me. A big enough draw to keep me on a river from sun up to sun down with temperatures as low as six degrees.
Although I didn't land the big fish I was hunting for last weekend, I did have an encounter. An encounter was good enough to keep me coming back for more. My flies drifted with the current on the opposite side of the river, right near the undercut bank. Then, thump, I was hooked up! The fish instantly moved up stream with authority, almost as though he didn't know he was hooked. With a little side pressure applied, he exploded on the surface of the river, then went straight to the bottom and gave a few weighty head shakes. Before long, my size 18 came spitting back across the river. As soon as it had begun, it was over.
As is usually the case, the fight had me both excited and disappointed. I had found a good fish and convinced it to humor me, but in all honesty, I got whooped. That encounter was fuel for the fire though. It kept me out past dark, hands frozen and nose running in the bitter cold. It's times like these. Times when I come close but don't fully feel the satisfaction of landing the big one that makes me love fishing so much. The challenge, the chess match, and the puzzle keep me engaged and wanting more.