Wouldn’t you know it? As soon as I write a piece on patterns and consistency, I get thrown a curve ball and am forced back to my stand-by position that “nature writes the textbooks but doesn’t necessarily read them”.
Case in point: I recently wrote that much of what we do in fly-fishing is to look for identifiable patterns that we can imitate or exploit.
Well, as soon as that declaration was in print — stuff happened.
Not that I’m complaining. To the contrary, I ended up having a good morning… a really good morning. Sure, it included a breakfast burrito with a little crow in it, but it was still a good morning and besides, I was able to spit out most of the feathers before they caused any permanent damage.
You see, Mondays are generally our “office and errand” day. Normally, I’m up and immediately at the computer or fixing the stuff that needs fixing or out the door with “to-do” list, checkbook, dirty laundry, stack of mail and an enormous cup-of-coffee-to-make-it-all-possible in hand.
But this last Monday, thanks in part to the time change, I awoke with the first rays of the sun peeking over… well, the neighbor’s house — but you know what I mean. Anyway, I awoke to a beautiful, clear and sunny sky.
It was one of those mornings that seem to happen every morning in the movies unless it is a horror film, which I never watch anyway. It was simply too good of a morning to start off in front of the computer, no matter how fresh or tasty the coffee or how urgent the e-mail messages.
So I quickly readied up, kissed my still sleeping wife and headed off to La Mirada Park.
Sure enough, there were numerous early morning walkers, a knot of laughing, joking older gentlemen occupying a couple of shaded benches set back on a short rise, a couple of maintenance workers, but no fisher-folk.
I rigged up a new carp fly that I recently purchased from Mad River Outfitters and began some “research”.
Within five minutes, I was rewarded with a Largemouth Bass followed, in short order, by several more Bass. Sure, they were on the small size, but they beat out the boatload of waiting-to-be-opened spam e-mails from a whole crew of totally honest attorneys in Nigeria representing the multi-million dollar estates of recently and tragically deceased relatives I never knew I had.
I continued a slow, leisurely pace around the lake pulling in small Bass about every five minutes.
About half way around the lake, as I was stripping in the fly with short, fast pulls, my rod doubled over.
That doesn’t happen often enough, so it feels good just putting it in writing. In fact, I’ll write it again: My rod doubled over instead of the normal gentle twitching that indicates a Trout or Panfish or even the short Bass I was catching on the other end of the line.
My first thought was Carp. After all, I did have a carp fly on the end of my tippet and there are numerous large Carp in the lake but… something didn’t add up. There was no line-eating, blazing fast run, no wild thrashing, no splashing, just a hard, steady, consistent pull.
My next thought was turtle. I hate snagging turtles. We used to work at a vet hospital that was licensed to see wildlife and frequently an angler would bring in a turtle that he or she had snagged or hooked. It was always a huge pain to try and remove the hook or untangle the line from a ticked off, biting, peeing and snapping turtle. The soft-shelled turtles were the worse. They have these incredibly long necks, nasty beaks and even nastier dispositions that make handling them difficult at best and dangerous at worst.
So, I groaned and hoped that it wouldn’t be a turtle and I wouldn’t lose my new fly to some hissing, whizzing soft shell.
Still my rod stayed doubled over.
Whatever was at the other end was moving in a slow zig-zag pattern and it was getting tired. Since I only had a 7x tippet I wanted to be very careful. (I know, I know, I should have been using a 4x or so but I really had only intended to play with the carp fly before switching over to something smaller. It just started working so darn well.)
Anyway, I glanced at my watch and decided to time this little tug of war. At eight and half minutes, I finally saw the head of my opponent – a catfish! And a decent size one at that.
At twelve minutes plus change, I was able to land a ten and half inch cat AND get my fly back.
Needless to say, it has been a lot of fun telling some of my other fishin’ buddies that I landed a catfish on a fly. Most of these guys are the powerbait and mackerel strips type of catfish anglers so the looks on their faces have been priceless.
Of course, they instantly remind me that it is not the normal “pattern” for cats to hit flies.
To which I reply, “Good thing fish don’t follow web blogs, eh?”
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.