I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on Mark Hopley’s podcast, “Fly Fish 97” out of British Columbia. He asked some really great questions throughout the conversation, but one question especially intrigued me. I’ve thought of it several times since and decided to paint that picture in writing. The question was, “How would you paint your perfect fishing day?”
I love early mornings for a number of reasons. I’ve grown to love the pre-dawn stillness, the first glimpse of light as the sun rises and, most of all, the coffee ritual. I love coffee! I’ve started roasting my own beans and have found Guatemalan beans are my favorite when toasted to a chestnut-colored, full city roast. My brewing method begins with fresh ground beans, an insulated mug, and a well used Aero Press finished with a splash of Half-n-Half.
The car has already been packed with my 10 foot, 2 weight Epiphany Moonshine rod, a dozen freshly tied Pat’s Stone Flies, my tiny camp stove, and a package of Japanese noodles. It’s a two-hour drive to my favorite spring creek so my audiobook is already queued up and ready to go. It’s 5:30 am as I leave my East Nashville driveway so, if all goes as planned, I should be in my waders making that first cast by 7:45. Of course, this takes into account the quick stop by Dunkin' Donuts for a cream-filled doughnut!
As I round the last bend in the road I know my first glimpse of the creek is almost in sight. After a thousand fishing trips, I can honestly say I have the same amount of excitement and anticipation as if it were my first time out. This morning is no different. Rain showers the previous two days have left the creek a little swollen and slightly stained, but that’s perfectly okay with me. As far as I’m concerned, the conditions are excellent for fishing this creek since it’s typically gin clear. One wrong move on a clear day and the trout will be spooked 100 yards up and down the stream.
I park off the road in my favorite spot, pull on my waders, and within minutes, I make the first cast upstream. Allowing the fly to bounce along the bottom, I suddenly feel the familiar tap on the line as a wild rainbow has taken the fly. The trout is small but brilliantly colored and less than a year old, as evident by the magenta parr markings or, as I like to call them, God’s thumbprint. After a dozen of these beauties, I fire up the small stove, boil some water and add the noodles and seasoning. Perfect lunch on this chilly afternoon.
Before starting the second half of the day, I flip over a few rocks to check out the underwater trout menu. It’s a healthy creek with an abundance of stoneflies, net spinning and cased caddis, and giant mayfly nymphs.
As I approach a deep slow run on this familiar stretch of water, I opt for two flies to get through the water column quickly. A thread frenchie and stonefly make up this tandem rig. With the overhanging branches, a bow and arrow cast is needed to shoot the flies upstream, giving them just enough time to reach the waiting trout. Two casts are all it takes to see the multicolored sighter disappear beneath the water’s surface. The give and take begin. The light tippet requires some finesse to successfully land this beauty, but after a few moments, the trout slips into the net. After admiring the unique markings of turquoise shadowed eyelids, she is quickly released back into the run, disappearing immediately. The day wraps up with a few more small but feisty trout and a handful of creek chubs before taking the final walk through the woods and back to the car.
I find a sleeve of peanuts in the glove box and a cold Diet Coke for the drive home. Before leaving, I scan through my phone for messages, and I’m excited to see an invitation to have burgers at M.L. Rose with some favorite friends at 6:00. Leaving now, I’ll arrive just in time. I shoot back a quick text, “See you there,” and then begin the drive home. It’s the perfect ending to the perfect fishing day.