Catching a fish twice...............


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Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
I left this on the thread that ask if you ever caught the same fish twice. I could have just said yes and been done with it but where's the fun in that for a guy who enjoys a good story. So here's the answer.

I lived in North Central Pennsylvania before relocating back in 2004, back there I fished a variety of water types. Streams ranged from very small laurel choked mountain brooks to very large limestone creeks. My favorite brook had a mix of stream born brown trout and the Native Brookies. It was that favorite creek that saw the most of me during the week when I didn't want to drive far from home. Like many of those beauties if you followed it upstream far enough it split in two. Take the right fork because that's where the lions share of the flow comes from and after only about 100 yards you come to where a giant and ancient red oak had fallen and formed a sort of dam across the little flow. I say 'a sort of dam' because it didn't really block the flow or create a pool upstream of the tree but it did gather just enough water that it formed a little plunge pool on the downstream side.

Now, that little plunge came under the oak log not overtop of it and where the root system was still attached on the left side of the little pool and current spot the water was at least 2 or more foot deep after being augured out by the current blasting under the log for years......... All the roots sticking out at all sort of weird angles presented a net like effect above and around that attractive looking hole right at the base of that fallen tree. Just picture a huge root system standing vertically because the tree they once supported now laid horizontal not upright. This was the kind of place where I had to crawl into a suitable distance and then sit there on the gravel studying the obstacles for a while before even considering a cast. The crawling on my hands and knees was also required because like all those little brooks this water is as clear as water can get so you knew that to stand was to remove any chance of knowing what may lie beneath that tree trunk....

This is a place with many of those big oaks interspersed with many a big hemlock and the occasional eastern red cedar. The ground surrounding the stream scattered with large round sandstone that have distributed by raging floods that have torn through those tightly folded mountains since the end of the Wisconsin Period glaciers receded some 12 thousand years ago. Big trees, some large stones, the typical stream bed cobble and plenty of moss covered logs long fallen and in end stage decomposition. Can you see this place? Do you know one yourself? That's how it went for me with those places where I spent so much of my time, I became so familiar with being there I can still see it in my minds eye. If I try hard I believe I can smell the forest and hear the water still.......

The tool I had for my little hide away was a 6' 6" bamboo flea rod with my trusty old Hardy Featherweight on the handle as the reel. My fly line was gray, it was gray when I bought it and I dyed it darker gray so that it didn't flash when you flicked it out in those couple false casts needed to establish range and then bring the third cast onto the target. Bamboo casts in almost a slow motion compared to any graphite I've ever owned and the flea was and is still me small stream rod. I did this so often that I could put a fly into some places that surprised even me and I was the guy trying to do it. You've heard of those people who try to put dry flies into tea cups in competitions? I've never tried that but out there on those little tight streams I've hit some tea cups that about took my breath away especially when that fly landed right where I wanted it and the water instantly exploded.

First time I ever went up that right side fork I found that tree and I managed the cast that had to be made. Somehow that little ginger quill avoided all those funky roots, the overhanging branches, everything! The fly struck the tree trunk and bounced right into the tea cup, fish on! The fish was one of those von Behr Brown trout, the ones that can become quite a beautiful thing given good mineral quality in their habitat. Golden flanked, mustard colored belly, blood red adipose fin and white tipped pelvic fins with beautiful red spots on those flanks as well. The size was perhaps 10 1/2 inches, could have been 11 even but in this creek that far up the little fork this was the equivalent of a salmon! I removed that fly ever so carefully and set him (it was a male) free and watched as he scooted right back to and disappeared into that hole bored out by the current under that old trees root system.

That evening made such an impression on me that I went back later that year but the fish didn't rise. I persisted in pushing my luck and yes I finally missed the mark and got snagged if the web of dendritic hazards that surrounded the spot. I took that opportunity to wade right over to the stump or base area of the tree not only to retrieve my fly but to have a good look at the layout of the hideout of that fish. I gotta admit that I was tempted to use my knife and do some pruning around the target zone but I did not. I had to fight that urge because this was one of the toughest spots to hit on that whole creek and there were many tight spots. I left things be and resigned that I would return next spring / early summer because it was time to go fish the bigger streams of the area now.......

I returned the following year and I did it again! Avoiding all the obstacles I ricocheted my fly off the log and right back into the tea cup but the water didn't explode. So I bit down on my lower lip lightly and hit it again as if it were easy and once more watched the fly drift out and away from the honey hole in a matter of seconds. Can I do that 3 times? And yes there was a fish and yes I reeled him (it was a male) right to me after a little panic on his part and removed the hook. I looked him over good because I had that same little Brodin C&R net with me, the tiny one that makes even tiny fish seem big........ Same fish I thought, maybe 11 1/2 or even 12 1/4" this time definitely bigger than last year but identical in every way except a bit more length and weight.

I left him alone for the rest of that second year, I had so many places to fish that there was no need to go torment that poor brown trout until he became nocturnal so I let him be a fish. I went back there in summer of 2003 the year before I left him alone forever and I caught him again! Same log, same cast, same fly pattern and as strange as I can be it could have been the exact same fly for all I know but I caught him a third time. I figure he was (it was a male) did I say that it was a male? I figure he was about an honest 13 or 14 inch brown trout by then, hell he coulda been 14 and a half, he sure seemed big to me. I felt strange in a way, felt like I somehow knew that fish although we spent less than 2 minutes together over a three year time span he seemed like an old chum. As I recall he didn't seem overly happy to see me again though.

That was a male brown trout, or did I already say that :unsure: