Lessons Taught by a 10-Inch Trout

The evolution of the fly angler is well documented in history and recounted many times in fly shops or river-side camps. It starts with the first fish fooled with bits of fluff and feathers, then progresses to the most and biggest quarry brought to hand. Personal bests are documented and saved in the trophy case of memory until the next milestone is reached. These are the measure. Goals set and attained, stepping us up to the next level of fulfillment.

Then comes the time when the challenge is not about the fish but how they became part of this progression. Light tippets or small flies presented in impossible locations become what drives us. Dry flies tied by our hands add a measure to our success and a new dimension to our understanding. Waters close to home or half a world away call to us as we feed our passion for this sport of fly fishing. Until we reach a level of heightened awareness, understanding that these milestones are not the reason for our journey; it is the journey itself and the knowledge we gather along the way.

My angling career started at a very young age and has been filled with many memorable encounters since that first 10-inch Trout pulled from Beaver Creek, a short drive from where I sit, writing this weekly invasion of your inbox. The passion and excitement never leave but are tempered by experience. I look at things differently now, seeing the details missed when my focus was on success and moving along on my quest. These details are as important, adding to any day spent with rod in hand. Flowers, birds, and the trees shading the cool water are as much of the experience as the jeweled Trout hidden beneath the mirrored flow.

This past Monday, as the city sweltered, we sought refuge in chilly waters flowing to the sea. Native Cutthroat rose to our offerings, dancing across small pools under a ceiling of alder. Our tackle matched the game at hand, adding to the challenge and enjoyment. Not a place for those seeking to make their reel scream with line-peeling runs, but one that presents its challenges.

As I waded upstream, I read the water before me, making pinpoint casts to pockets and seams, envisioning the Trout that made a living here beneath the canopy of green. It was like fishing in miniature, a scaled-down version of the quintessential Trout stream. Seeing similarities of rivers fished over the years, applying the knowledge gained, I found myself reliving adventures and fond memories. Lessons learned guided my casts, bringing a smile when a Trout rose to greet the drifting fly. No trophies landed on this day if the measure was in size alone, but a few new lessons were taught by a 10-inch Trout.



Joel La Follette
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