Amazing how fishing makes everything better
Got out for the very first time this year on Saturday. I went to Dunbar Creek here in southwestern PA. It was a beautiful, sunny, 40-some-degree day. I woke up early and just decided to get the h^^^ out of the house before SWMBO woke up and would have may day all planned out for me.
Stuck everything in the car and took off. I was not originally going to go to Dunbar but the car sort of took me in that direction and I couldn't stop it. Got to the point where my phone reception would be gone (WOO-HOO!!) and called home to say where I was. Of course, she asked how long I would be there. is there time when you are fishing??? All I said was that I would be home before it was dark.
As I pulled into the spot I think I like to park, the water looked perfect. I realized then that it is not even so much the fishing part that I like; it is just the simple fact that I really, REALLY like being outside. I like the quiet. I like the sights, the sounds. I like everything about being away from all the stress and strain that life is a lot of times.
It probably took me a half hour to get ready. I took my time, savoring the day and looking at the sun-dappled trees and stream. I got to the stream and took the first few casts of the year. Wow. Then another guy walks down the hill and says he is going on the other side. Okay with me! Of course, he is there for about 15 minutes, catches three normal Dunbar-sized trout (about 8 inches or so), gets bored and walks back across the stream to go somewhere else.
I told him I enjoyed watching him and he gave me a lot of advice. He said they were really laying on the bottom and he was having success with a little white streamer with a stonefly nymph tied afterwards. He gave me one of his nymphs and said they were crawling all around. He was right. Soon thereafter, they were crawling all over my neck.
He also said there were about six trout hiding under a rock but it would be really hard to get to them. That was why he left because he couldn't get the fly down to them and had enough. Heck, he pulled out three fish in 15 minutes. I have this feeling he may have just wanted to fish where nobody else was. That's fine. I understand.
After a while, I wade over there and try my luck. Then an older gentleman came to where I was and we fish together for about 20-30 minutes. I watch him as he used a nymph. It was very interesting watching him. He had so-o-o-o much patience. You could just tell. It was a joy just watching him. (Is that weird?)
Suddenly, he lands a trout. So patience pays off. Less than a minute later, I land one. WOO-HOO! First fish of the year. It was nothing spectacular, just the first one of the year. And the only one of the day.
Another guy come down the hill and plants himself about ten feet upstream from the old guy I was watching. I couldn't believe it. I had visions of their line tangling and a tiff afterwards. Then the bozo would probably walk to my side of the stream and do the same thing. So I quickly took a walk downstream so as not to ruin what has turned out to be a perfect day.
I poke around further and further downstream for several hours. I see a stump and thought it looked familiar. I lost a pair of nipper last year and always thought I dropped them by a stump. So I walk over, move a leaf or two, and found my nippers! A little surface rust but that's all. I was surprised they didn't get washed away since it was pretty close to the stream and the stream can get pretty high there.
I wander back upstream and go to where I was earlier. The old guy was gone and the "bozo" was just walking back up the hill, so I fished there for a while longer. Another guy comes down smoking a cigar and taking his time. Now, cigars are not for everybody, I know, but I love the darn things. And I brought along a cigar that day just so I could take a walk while I enjoyed it. I wasn't really ready to quit but, as I watched him pull in a fish, he put his cigar into the hook of a tree branch and the wind was juuuuuust right and pushed the aroma into my nostrils and I couldn't take it anymore. I was done. Ready to take the walk.
I put everything back into the car and lit up my cigar and took a walk upstream. I saw the first old guy fishing away still and I kept walking until the trail ended and turned around. I stopped and watched the old guy pull a could more fish out. I was about to leave and he started to walk up the hill. I waited for him and said I enjoyed watching him fish. I said I was still learning and I like to watch others who know what they are doing.
As we walked back down the trail, he said he has been fishing Dunbar for 50 years and asked if I was a 'local'. I laughed, figuring he was a 'local' and said I was from a place he probably never heard of that was an hour-and-a-half or more away: Bethel Park.
He stops suddenly and looked at me very strangely for what seemed like forever. I was afraid to talk. I was listening for banjo music.
Then he said, "I LIVE in Bethel Park."
Turns out he lives on a street that intersects mine! It was amazing. We exchanged names, addresses, and phone numbers. We will be going fishing again soon.
It is amazing to go someplace like that and meet a neighbor you never knew existed, even though you have been neighbors, sort of, for 25 years.
It was almost 4:30 at that point and I figured I needed to get home before long just so I can say that I made it home before dark and in time for supper.
It turned out to be a perfect day. Perfect weather. Watched some good fly fishers do their thing. Met a new fishing buddy. Caught the first fish of the year. Spent a whole day on the stream.
Most importantly, there was absolutely no stress left inside of me. I have been working my tail off at work, with no end in sight for probably the entire year and longer, and I needed a release. Once I was in the car and started to drive home, I realized how much better I felt. How much weight was lifted from my shoulders. How much clearer my mind was.
That said, I did learn something: I need a lot more practice. I see so many things I am doing wrong. I either cannot get my fly deep enough or I cannot judge how deep the water is because I see my fly going right into a trout's head and it ends up swimming underneath it. In the event that a trout does go after my fly, I get too anxious and try to set the hook before it even gets its mouth over the fly and I miss them. Arrrrggghhhh!!! I may be better off not being able to see the fish!
But, who cares? The only way to get better is to go out and fish.