fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

on finding what’s not there a little too late


This post brought to you by the writing prompt “Damaged Goods
from the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN)

There seems to be a general consensus in the fly fishing community that if you haven’t broken a rod, smashed a reel or torn your waders, you aren’t fishing hard enough or often enough. There may be some truth to this idea. If so, I have to make up for lost time.

Speaking of lost…

It was one of those warm spring days that finally pushed the long, hard, fishless winter to the back of my mind and encouraged thoughts of the season ahead. I’d started early, as usually, setting up a personal roadside staging area behind my Honda, where I pieced together a 5 wt rod, strung line through the guides and tied on those nondescript nymphs that suggest food to fish in the twilight before dawn. I stood on the old rug to slip on waders and boots. Throwing on the vest, I was ready for the short walk from the road down to the creek.

There’s nothing I like better than mornings alone on the creek, when the lack of sunshine renders polarized lenses useless and tilts the odds in favor of the trout. I waded to the opposite shore, from where I could cast towards cut banks and larger fish holding there.

The sun rose. The fishing was good. So was the catching. By noon the body count was well into double digits. Nymphs had been replaced with dry flies.

As usual, things began to slow down during the middle of the afternoon. One last cast led to one more last cast. Then another. And another. Almost without thinking, I’d cast, watch a fish rise, wait a second, then set the hook and bring it to the net. That’s why I nearly fell over when that last fish peeled line off my reel as it raced upstream. This was one of the big ‘uns I thought.

We danced for a good fifteen minutes. Upstream and downstream; into weeds and around boulders. I don’t know whether this particular trout was finally too tired, graciously decided reward me with a close up look, or wanted a closer look at his adversary, but soon we were at arm’s length.

I reached toward my back and grabbed…nothing. Apparently, and unknowingly, I lost my net — formerly attached to a magnetic net holder — sometime during the late afternoon.

No net and a big fish can be bad news. I never saw that fish and I won’t even estimate its length. Let’s just say he’s now referred to as the one of many that got away; an energetic fish that gave me the fin just when I thought the fight was over.

The only thing damaged that day was my pride.


5 thoughts on “on finding what’s not there a little too late

  1. Wait, first you said you got the fish within arm’s length. Then you said you never saw it. I would never suggest you are telling half truths, so you must have REALLY long arms, or the water must have been REALLY dirty. Either way, sorry for your loss.

  2. Found you on OBN and had to give props on writing a blog since 1997. I think you win the longest-up-and-running outdoors blog award! Great writing, too.

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