Friday, February 10, 2012

Remembering the Net


The rod bent uncomfortably as two excited sets of eyes watched the oversized brown shake his head in disapproval. Unfortunately for me, the rod I carried rested comfortably idle in my right hand, line and leader drifting somewhere downstream. I hadn’t even brought my net.

The brown made one last hard charge towards cover and deeper water, trying to release itself from the “Dungeon” that pinned him harshly to foreign bonds. But as quickly as he was hooked, he relented in a pile at the bottom of the only net between us, Jake’s. I looked at the giant trout and took a mental note to buy a larger net, preferably one with a longer handle, and one that I would remember not to leave in the trunk. Good thing one of us knew what they were doing.

“Holy shit,” I said softly, watching Jake tail the fish and lift him proudly from its cradle. The look on his face confirmed my words. Making me feel better, not wanting to tip him off as to the size of fish I’m used to catching. But one look at the crazed smile on my face would reveal the truth, it was unavoidable. I couldn’t help it, it wasn’t even my fish.

Yep...the trout in question

I met Jake a couple months back at the Elkhorn Flyshop in Loveland. He was conducting a fly tying demo, trying to show a few of us weekend warriors the “go to” patterns for the Big Thompson, Poudre, and beyond. Something he has wired, but something I’m in the early stages of trying to figure out. Needless to say, he had my attention. We talked briefly after he was done, and tentatively made plans to fish one of the local waters when we both had the time. It’s the kind of thing you say in a fly shop, but understand if it never happens. Not unlike passing an acquaintance on the street and saying, “let’s grab a beer sometime”, only to leave and go your separate ways.  But we stayed in touch, and a few months later, we found a cold river waiting for us on Super Bowl Sunday.

Cars passed quietly as we strung our rods. Four rods were rigged, two for each of us, streamers on one, with the little stuff on the other. I was hoping to throw streamers most of the day, if for nothing else than a way to stay warm. But most likely we would fish both hard, trying to figure out which way the proverbial wind was blowing. I just hoped it wouldn’t take too long. My fingers were cold.

There was a time in my life, not too long ago, that ending up in Colorado seemed unimportant. I did after all, turn down a golf scholarship to my newly adopted city’s University in order to stay closer to home. Opting for colder weather, a shorter golf season, and the friends that seemed to make this whole thing turn, I didn’t even own a fly rod. And as the confidence of youth showed in some of my decisions, not knowing the future was as comfortable to me as any barstool in St. Paul. But hindsight allows for that kind of romance, the kind that lets you ask what could have been. But I was unapologetically happy not knowing who I was or where I was headed. No wonder I ended up selling produce, or giving financial advice, or now, selling office equipment that no one seems to want. But as it turns out, life isn’t about looking back. It’s about finding something you love, pursuing it hard, and accepting who you are, not the guy that you think you need to be. It’s just too damned short. And looking at Jake, I’m reminded that life was never meant to be quite so complicated. Decisions are meant to be easy, kind of like deciding to go fishing, instead of watching the commercials on the biggest ad day of the year.

The thrust of the heavy trout’s tail kicked water into the air, a final act of defiance as the tired brown slipped deep into calmer water, trying to reassess what had just transpired. The bend in the net’s basket was still bowed deeply, leaving an imprint that seemed appropriately frozen, either by temperature, weight, or time. And with a smile and a fist bump, we kept fishing, just like we were supposed to be doing.

Working it...


*Check out Jake's blog at Fins on the Fly. It is a great blog to follow, as it hits everything from tying flies, fishing adventures, videos, and anything else fly fishing related. Jake is as nice a guy as you could ever hope to meet, on or off the water. It was fun to watch and learn some new tricks, proving once again that age has nothing to do with knowing what the hell you are doing.

I couldn't let you think Jake caught the only fish...

44 comments:

  1. Beautiful fish man! It's great to be there when it all comes together and a trophy fish comes to net...even if you're just the one holding the net.
    Great read....Jeff

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    1. Thanks Jeff! I will happily be the guy holding the net when fish like that are caught...it was a fun day on the water for sure.

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  2. That's a cute little brown fry caught by your silly fly angling friend. I'm not easily impressed, and this is certainly no exception. I'll refrain from even commenting on your little synthetic fish.

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    1. Hey Man, as soon as you step foot in the Poudre and experience what a cruel mistress it can be, you let me know, alright? I find it sad that a sixteen year old is having to go over this with you, but hey, it takes a bigger person sometimes. And before you go putting down sixteen year old kids, consider the context of your diction. Synthetic fish would be calling the fish fake, which is an improper use of vocabulary seeing as the 3 dimensional features of the fish are clearly demonstrated in the photograph. Oh, and one more thing... if you're going to disgrace the name of a tremendous fly fishing author by posting stuff like this, at least make your profile picture one of YOU with a truly big brown trout, not some animated crap. Let me know when you make it to Fort Collins, we'll separate the men from the boys, age aside. Looking forward to fishing with you!

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  3. Looked like a great day, Sanders. I used to always forget to remember to bring a net, and now, unless I'm floating, I never bring a net. Bringing one just insures that no fish will be caught.
    And ignore that Roderick dude—what an ass.

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    1. I think you're right...maybe I should leave the net in the car more often. At least I might have a shot at more fish like the one Jake caught...ha!

      Roderick is just mad...he'll be fine.

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  4. I feel naked without a net.
    Congrats on your sweet brown.

    Ignore the jealous guy....

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    1. Thanks Len! I usually feel the same way when I forget the net. I'm just glad one of us was prepared...

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  5. I know what that feels like. Everytime I go fishing with my friend Bucko, I end up looking at his big fish and grinning from ear to ear.

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    1. I was grinning from ear to ear for sure...possibly even drooling. I would like to think I had something to do with it, but it was all Jake.

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  6. I've reached that point in my angling in which I see all fish landed as a team effort, or at least that's how I comfort myself.

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    1. That's a great way to look at it. And like you said, if nothing else, I might make myself feel better in the process. I like it!

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  7. Excellent post man. That is a beauty brown and an beauty Cutty/Bow. Maybe that Roderdick fellow would have preferred some pics of Browns made in an Adobe program.(Hasn't he ever heard of can't say somethin nice, just keep your mouth shut :) What a guy!! Nicely done and tight lines bro.

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    1. I'm glad someone notice my fish at the end...it was a nice little cuttbow (or rainthroat as a certain rod maker in town calls them). I think Roderick is just getting sick of winter and is a little grumpy...he'll be fine.

      Cheers!

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  8. Great story and a lesson learned. I always bring a net...it's sitting in the back of my suv right now...where it always is.

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    1. Lesson learned for sure. I will be putting the net in the trunk later today...

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    1. Great Write up Sean, and I will never forget that day on the water! It was an unbelievably awesome time, and I can't wait to see what the next adventure yields. Awesome post, great writing, great picture, put simply, you rock dude.

      Let me know when your in the mood and we'll go again.... Im in for anything with you...

      Best,
      Jake Ruthven
      Fins on the Fly

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    2. Thanks Jake! It was definitely a day to remember, something I will remember for a long long time. I think we might need to lower our expectations a little bit for the next time out though...ha!

      We'll get after it soon...

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  10. What a fun outing! Like the fact Mr Brown fell for a Dungeon, been meaning to try that pattern. Love the fact those schweet fish were caught in the midst of winter, on Super Bowl Sunday no less. Mostly, I like where you're headed Sanders! mike

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    1. Mike, we had a ton of fun. I was pretty pumped that the big guy took that big chunk of meat...it was pretty cool. First cast no less...

      Cheers my friend!

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  11. Sanders,Sanders,Sanders. I would have jumped in after those fish.
    That brown is beautiful.
    Well done.

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    1. Ha! I would have too...thankfully it didn't have to come to that.

      The brown was a beauty...amazing colors on that guy.

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  12. Ssnders, you made the right choice... the commercials were mostly lame this year.
    Jake... it's good to see someone from Elkhorn get's some water time. I've been trying to get Brian out for several years now. LOL

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    1. I had a feeling I wouldn't miss the commercials...but I was lucky enough to make it home in time to see some. I would trade football for fish any day...it was a great day

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    2. Brian is a tough one, isn't he? One day he will realize he needs to take a break and go fish(:

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  13. I love how those big fish take your breath away, even if your not the one to catch it...

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    1. No doubt...definitely fun to see and get some pictures of.

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    2. That's really y I like fishing in groups. Rare that everyone takes a skunk... Lol

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  14. First off that is an absolutely beautiful brown. That being said, another great piece of writing and a nice take on the important things in life. Well done once again.

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    1. Thanks, I appreciate the kind words! The brown was incredible, we were very fortunate to have brought that guy to net. I'm just glad one of us was able to catch him.

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  15. Sanders
    Man that is some kind of an nice brown. I am still waiting and hoping someday that I will get the opportunity to land a trout even close to that size. Really proud for you. Thanks for sharing a great adventure.

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    1. Thanks Bill! I'm still hoping to catch one that size as well :-) It was a lot of fun, and something that doesn't happen very often, especially on the Poudre.

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  16. Ok...I just went over and followed Jake's blog. Nice for you to find more people to fish those great waters with! And everyone has a little different way of fishing the same stream, which makes it interesting. RHB is sooo jealous of beautiful "synthetic" creatures sharing his water...very funny. Nice catch.

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    1. RD! It's been fun meeting a lot of people through the blog that I'm able to fish with. It's just awesome. Hopefully Jake let's me tag along with him in the future...ha!

      RHB is fine, he's just selfish...

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  17. A lesson I learned several years ago: More often than not you don't need a net. When you need one, bring a big one. Great pictures. Love that last one. Terrific composition.

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    1. I'll be getting a bigger net this week...lesson learned! I thought that last photo turned out really well also, not sure what I did...hopefully I can remember for the next time...ha

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  18. Great post man. Miles Davis knew youth was where energy, grit, determination, and the direction of music was going. That's why the man was on the cutting edge of his craft and surrounded by young musicians. No different with fishing. Another advantage as a youth is the ability to totally immerse ones self into an obsession. This post is timely as it looks like Jake's tying at Charlie's on Sat. If I can break free I'll have to get down there....ya know, bed bath and beyond...home depot....don't know if I'll have enough time.

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    1. Rhythm Rider-

      I hope you can make it to the demo.... Lots of sick streamers to be tied!

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    2. Thanks Rhythm! Miles Davis was a smart guy...Jake is definitely one of those guys. He's a great fisherman, tyer, and advocate for the sport...hope you can make his demo at Charlie's, I'm sure he'll have a few cool patterns to show. I on the other hand will be entertaining the in-laws, which should be a good time since we haven't seen them in a while. But limits my ability to get out and do anything fishing related.

      ...my wife and I are closing on a house next friday, and I have been using that quote from "Old School" quite liberally the last few weeks...love it!

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