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Know When to Quit

An ocean of desert sage and high cliffs surrounded me. Fly rod in one hand, I crept to the waters edge. The crystal clear, spring creek meandered its way to me and kinked to the right about twenty feet in front of me. A line of bubbles marked the path my fly needed to travel. I rose to my knees and made a few false casts before landing my elk-hair caddis with a pheasant tail dropper five feet to the right of where I wanted it. The water was too clear and the trout too wary to make many more mistakes like that. The next cast placed the fly right in the foam. The trout agreed with me: foam is home. A violent swirl and my fly vanished. Strip, lift, that beautiful sound of fly line lifting off the water, and solid resistance. I knew it was big, certainly, bigger than any trout I had hooked before. This was a wild, native Redband Rainbow. I snapped a few pictures and she swam right back into the depths from whence she came. On to the next hole.

A few small trout later I came to another bend in the stream. This one had a seam running out the downstream side of it. My fly bobbed in the current and began to spin like a floater swirling a toilet bowl. Down it went. Set! This fish seemed familiar. I took pictures and compared them to a fish I had caught the week before. A distinctive five dot pattern on its head confirmed my suspicions! This was catch and release fishing at it’s finest.

The last fish of the day, and my favorite, was a tiny gem of a Brook Trout. It was nestled in the half-submerged grass and rushed out to smack my caddis imitation as it went tumbling by. My set wasn’t quick enough, but my dropper saved me, lodging on the top of its nose. This was my first brookie ever! A few quick pics and it was back in the water to grow larger for another angler to enjoy.

I started to make another cast and thought, “I caught my largest trout to date, a trout that I caught and released a week ago, and my first Brook Trout. Why push for more when I’ve been given so much?” I cut my flies off, knowing the temptation to fish might return and climbed onto a rock to contemplate. The temperature was perfect, adult caddis flies bounced on the water, almost as if they were tantalizing the hungry rainbows beneath. The sun rested on the horizon, giving up its last gasps of glorious light. I laid on my back and let the sound of rushing water lull me to sleep.

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