“He’s comin’ to you Pop.” My brother yelled it as he reeled in his line and I barreled towards him. I was slipping, sliding, wading and floating my way downstream while I fought to keep the rod tip up, but out of the overhanging branches and tall grass along a high bank that hugged waist-high water on the Yakima River. I had a big fish on and was moving downstream quick to keep it that way.
I love targeting trout tucked in tight along the banks of a river. Especially, grassy banks. Especially, grassy banks with vegetation overhanging. Especially, grassy banks, with vegetation overhanging, that are difficult to cast to without losing my fly.
The art of the missed hookset is nuanced and complex. Like most artforms, grasping one aspect of the missed hook set does not translate into a full understanding and mastery of the overall process. It takes a greater level of skill to miss the hook set on a trout after years of experience, but truly great fly fishermen and women do not succumb to complacency in the other aspects of the sport they love, so it follows that the art of missing hook sets is no different.
Fishing was slow, but I was optimistic. The East Fork of the Sevier River is more of a small stream than a river. The water rarely widens more than a dirt road, but it is enough. High desert grasses and steep hills make for beautiful scenery and there is easy access along the highway. I had never been skunked in that section and it was rare to see other fishermen in the canyon. So far, I was alone. It was blue skies and when the wind stopped, the sun warmed me. A smile on my face. Why not be optimistic?
Having been fly fishing for many years and experienced all manner of fame and folly in pursuit of Salmo Trutta across this great country, I find I am constantly acquiring new experience and proficiency in one subject rarely discussed in the fly fishing community...I think it equally obvious that I must proceed, as I ultimately consider it my duty. I present to you, then, the specific methods and techniques for falling in the river while fly fishing.
Across the river a trout is happily filling his belly with bugs.
It is one thing to not catch fish while nymphing. It is another to be hooking up all day and then come up short on a great spot.
It all tends to happen fast. Anticipation is replaced by exhilaration when a trout takes your fly. Immediately, there is a moment of holding your breath, hoping the hook set will stick, and then it is right down to the business of landing the fish --- but wait! Don’t lose a nice trout speeding to get him on the reel.