Everyone has a different idea of a successful day on the water, and maybe if you’re lucky you’ll see more than a few this season, but what’s a perfect day on the water? Is it more about catching fish all day? I mean lights out, back-to-back-to-back catches? Or is it more about the friends you head to the river with, or the silence of fishing alone? Or maybe you just like being off of work. Whatever it is, we want to hear it.
For me it’d have to be a dawn patrol mission on the saltwater flats looking for, and actually finding, striped bass. Getting on the water just as the sun breaks the horizon, the day warming as I reach my spot, just enough to start wet wading in board shorts comfortably. Once I settle into a rhythm maybe I’ll start seeing schools come and go consistently all day, and hopefully I’ll even get a few to bite. A really good day would be watching a big one stalk, chase, and eat my fly and for me to then actually land it. Maybe get it on camera too, because you haven’t caught anything unless you can prove it, right?
Tell Us: What Is Your Idea Of A Perfect Day On The Water?
The best responses will be shared here on the blog, and I’ve heard we may even have a few extra stickers ready to go into the boxes of the Tribe Members that share their perfect day on the water. Comment below, on Facebook or on Instagram and share your story!
Not a member of the Postfly Tribe? Make sure you have a box coming your way next month and sign up today to get the best flies and gear sent right to your door every month.
I often eschew cliches, but there are simply those days that lemonade bountifully flows from the great big lemon Mother Nature hands you. On a late summer day, I fished the trophy section of New Hampshire’s Connecticut River in a torrent of rain. Intermittent lightning drove me from the river on several occasions throughout the morning, where each time I retreated into the woods and questioned the whole enterprise. It was the type of weather that forces you to catalogue the reasons why we do this. However, I kept coming back to water, always rewarded for my persistence. As the rain pelted me, I continued to net healthy brook trout and rainbows with every 3-4 casts. In what could have otherwise been a soul sucking endeavor, I found a great deal of bliss. By mid-afternoon, having satisfied my fishing appetite, tired and water-logged, I called “uncle” and retreated to the van. It was during that walk back that I realized that the best fishing days, at least for me, are not those where everything goes perfect, but when I net fish despite the challenges, despite what feels like everything conspiring against me. Like the frost bitten mountaineer who summits Everest, there is a sacred and somewhat perverse joy in fishing with success in such conditions. While it is true what Burt Reynolds says to Ned Beatty in the film adaption of “Deliverance”- “You don’t beat. You don’t beat this river,” there are those moments when you have at least called its bluff.
Just a day before, my wife, Kristin, and I landed in Shannon, Ireland. We had spent the first night on the banks of Lough Corrib, but were too exhausted to fish. It was raining, hard, but we made our way down to County Kerry, where we would be spending the next several days. Kristin and I didnt really have a plan, but we did have a rod apiece, waders, boots, and a box of flies.
Late in the afternoon we arrived at the bed and breakfast at which we were staying. It was a small farm in Castlemaine. There were was a decent sized river and a multitude of small streams in the area. We asked the B&B owner if there was a good, safe place to access the river. She directed us to the center of town where there was/is a pier; it wasn’t what we were hoping for. We explained we wanted to fish for native brown trout. The owner disappeared to call a friend, who, she was confident, would know where we should go. Minutes later, she reappeared, excited, and began giving us directions. I remain unsure if I was simply too tired to comprehend the directions or if they were just unintelligable. Between Kristin and I, we managed to understand some bits and pieces of the incredibly detailed, confusing, and partialy Gaelic directions.
“Whatever…we’ve got a gps; we’ll find it”
Back in the rental we found ourselves. Kristin drove as I attempted locate some the landmarks the inn keeper had uttered, “the pub, about 1 Km, then a left, another 2-3Km and you’ll see a bridge,” and look for blue lines on the gps. We arrived in the general area. We could see the river far below huge farm fields, but no bridge and no access. One wrong turn after another had us lost; the roads were unmarked, muddy, and narrow. Finally, somewhat exasperated, we saw a farmer sitting in his truck.
“Hi! We’re looking for a place to fish. We were told about a bridge?”
The initial reply was a look that I will never forget. The farmer probably thought that we were a couple of crazy Americans. But, he smiled, pointed, and replied,
“Turn around, stay on this road, and take a right turn in about 2Km. You’ll run right into a stone bridge where a lot of locals fish.”
He was right. We arrived at the bridge in a driving rain. Thankfully, the water wasn’t running too high. Better yet, we were alone, well, kind of, there were Irish cows in the fields along both banks. And, birds, lots of birds.
Without wasting any time, we put on our waders and boots. I rigged up our rods with some searching patterns since there were no visible rises or insects. We scaled down the steep bank. Rather, I scaled down the steep bank; Kristin slid down it.
Finally, we were standing in the river. We didn’t know its name, where exactly we were, or if there were any trout or any fish in the water. Yet, the uncertainty did not matter. Two days earlier we had been back home in the United States, where everything was familiar and usual. We were way out of our confort zones but at the same time right inside them. After all, were in a river that wasn’t too deep and moving with decent flow. What could really go wrong?
Lines began splashing down on the water. Nothing. We fished a few seams without any success. Then, I moved down and under the bridge. There was some deadfall in the river that looked promising. One cast downstream and a swing. Nothing. Then, a second cast and the familiar tightening as the fly began to swing. TUG!
I began rapidly stripping line and I brought the fish to hand. Dripping wet in the still driving rain, I shook uncontrollably from adrenaline. But, there, in my hand, was a perfect, brightly-colored native brown trout. Our mission was a success.
We fished for several more hours in idyllic solitude. More trout were landed. When were on the verge of hypothermia, we declared our success and left the river for pints. What is my perfect day on the water? It doesn’t…it can’t…get better than this one.
I had dedicated most of my morning to fishing one spot. Just one spot in hopes that a monster striper would wander by and make a meal of my sand eel imitation. The sand bar pushed out into the river and on the back side it dropped off fast and deep. A perfect spot for striper to hold.
I had been fishing since sun up and it was now mid morning. My arm was turning to mush and a slight breeze felt like sandpaper on my face. As I went for another back cast I noticed a boy, about 5 I would guess, sitting up the beach holding a fishing pole. He was just sitting there watching me cast.
Over the next 15 minutes watched as he slowly worked his way to my spot. I pretended not to notice his approach but eventually he had worked his way into my casting lane and I was too tired to control my cast.
I said “I suppose I’m fishing in your spot”
I looked over at him out of the corner of my eye with a slightly disgusted look on my face.
He just nodded his head.
“Ok then it’s all yours” I said
He jumped up and promptly started fishing as I moved up the beach about 20 yards conceding my spot to a claim jumping little fisherman.
His first cast did not make the water. He had a 4 foot long Walmart special pole with one of those white rubber grubs on the end. About a foot up from that he had a giant pyramid weight that put a bend in the rod on its own. I wanted to show him what he was doing wrong but before I could say something he was already going for another cast.
He stepped back, ran forward, wound up, and launched that contraption he had tied on 20 feet……..straight up. This time the weight came crashing down 2 feet into the water line and the grub fell about another foot past that. Then for the first time the boy started to not only talk but yell.
“I GOT ONE!!!! I GOT ONE!!!! ” He yelled
He runs backwards with the pole, never actually reeling in any line, dragging his pyramid weight ashore and behind that weight was a 12 inch long schoolie. He dropped everything, ran forward, scooped that fish by the jaw and stood there almost not believing what he was holding. He gave me one quick look to make sure I had seen his fish and then started running across the beach yelling for his mother.
“Look! I got one! I told you I would get one!”
The disappointment of my day, the sun and windburn on my face, all faded into a smile.
I reeled in my line, walked off the beach, and that smile never left face.
So yes, my best day on the water I was bested by a claim jumping 5 year old con artist. But I was also reminded that fishing was not about how many or how big of a fish I might catch, but the joy it brings me to be on the water.
Utah – High Uintas – hot July 2016…my three good friends from Buffalo – Adam, his Dad Dave & Richard…plus our two guides from Falcons Ledge…Garrett & Bryan.
Destination – Upper Stillwater Reservoir.
It’s more than a two mile trek in…up and along a horse trail that borders the side of the reservoir…and we’re around 9000′ in elevation so I have to stop and listen to my own breathing from time to time just checking in to make sure I’m ok…
I think I am.
I promised the guys that I would NOT slow them down and we all wanted to fish this water.
The promise – well, that was pretty special….if we were good or if we were lucky…or in my case good AND lucky – there were six species, maybe seven that hovered just beneath the surface of this incredibly remote, incredibly pristine body of water.
We arrived at the very uppermost point of the reservoir where Rock Creek empties into the reservoir…we pull our gear out of our backpacks and don the obligatory waders, boots, buffs and slings.
Assemble our rods – tie those teeny tiny knots I can hardly see anymore and choose a fly – or flies.
Utah White Fish…
On the Stillwater – in the fast, cold water of Rock Creek…we walked and we cast – we cast and we walked…landing fish after fish after fish – each more beautiful than the previous.
We took a few minutes out for lunch – I wish I could remember what we ate that day but I can’t. I can remember Richard’s Grayling – and how I thought and still think that Grayling somehow escaped the extinction of the dinosaur in Utah because if ever I had laid eyes on a prehistoric creature this was certainly one…
There was a snake – there are pictures of Garrett waving it around – not too far from where I stood, but I couldn’t be bothered…because I had a dry fly on the surface of rarely disturbed and even more rarely fished waters that day.
It all passed in the blink of an eye it seemed – we were out of our waders, everything packed back up and making the trek back to civilization…once again intermittently checking my heart rate and breathing…I HAD to live to tell the story of this day.
I worry that someday I won’t be able to make the next hike in…and then I am going to depend on my own ability to close my eyes – and call up again the virtual reality recording of these days stored deep in my memory. I suspect that these will be the memories that carry me gently into that good night…
But until that time is upon me – I will hike – I will pull on waders, boots, buff and pack…I will arm myself with rod, reel and bugs – and I will walk into the water…
Perfect – my perfect day