Monday, February 24, 2014

Breaking From Tradition - Douglas the Ghillie

On Saturday I met Doug at a Lehigh Valley limestone creek in an effort to shake off my cabin fever.  The weather was as good as one could expect after the deep freeze of the last few weeks - bright sun, air temperatures in the mid-fifties, and the occasional wisp of a breeze to redden the cheeks.  The ground was blanketed in knee deep, wet snow, that was melting slowly enough to have little effect on the little creek, which was clear and flowing at a perfect late winter rate.
The plan was for me to fish with one of Doug's competition set-ups, and for him to provide instruction; or as they say in Scotland, "attend the angler".   He set me up with a 10FT 2WT rod that had a 20 foot leader on it.  A "sighter" of approximately 24 inches was located about 2/3 of the way down the leader, which was half fluorescent red, and half chartreuse.  The point fly was a silver bead head Walt's Worm, and the dropper, about 20 inches above the point, was a smaller quill fly like the one shown below.  Both flies were tied by Doug on jig style competition hooks - I thought I was going to have a stroke when I picked up the rod!    Nevertheless, I survived the shock of handling such a modern day set up with such "flies".       
We walked down to the creek, and Douglas put me in a nice, fishy looking run, that was sure to hold fish.  After describing how he would fish the run, how I should hold the rod and manipulate the line, I began to fish.  Doug stayed by my side coaching me and offering encouragement.   It took a while to get used to the set up, but fishing it was not unlike the way I have always nymphed - rod high, line tight but not taught, with the flies bouncing along the bottom at the same speed as the current (if you are doing it right).  The primary difference from how I have always nymphed was the set-up of the line, leader, tippet and the flies I was fishing.  With the rod being so very long and light, and because I had only a very short length of fly line extending beyond the rod tip, it was necessary to concentrate more to control the leader and drift, because I didn't have the weight of the fly line to counteract the nuances of current and the occasional breeze.  Like many other techniques employed when fly fishing, this one required a good degree of finesse, which made it very enjoyable.

Here's Doug retying my leader after I managed to give it a tangle.  

Mr. Positive!  We moved up stream and sure enough I began taking fish.    They were beautiful wild browns, nothing too big, but full of spunk and a treat for the eyes after looking at all that white stuff for so many weeks on end. 
Here's a typical brown that Doug caught a couple of pools above me after we separated......just before he went off on his own, he said something to the effect, "You've got the hang of it, I'm going to catch a few now, too."  Check out the red edges on the tail of this fish, just about as pretty as they get.   
We ended the day having done quite well.  I took 5 fish and "dropped" two.  Doug caught a bunch as well.  As a guide, he was terrific; patient, knowledgeable, and above all, great company as always.  I think we'll do this again, and I'll fish again using the techniques I learned this day to better understand another facet of this wonderful sport that Doug loves so much. But you can bet I'll mostly continue to fish the way I always have, not because it's better, but because it's in my blood.  I learned to fly fish in a different era than Douglas, and I think that's the best part of fishing with him - he has a very different perspective yet we share a passion for the sport that transcends experience.      
The day was a success in every sense of the word.  I look forward to the next time we get on the water, Douglas.  I think there's a little Scottish in your blood, my friend. 
Sharpen your hooks.


Mr. Q said...

What happened to the "drift boat" ?

It was funny....

Matt Grobert said...

Mr. Q - I was offended by my own joke....... : )