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April 22, 2011 / flogginwater

Fictional Essay – My First Fish on the Rise Fishing Level Series 6 Weight

Regular Readers please note!: This is one of the final tasks for the OwlJones.com / RiseFishing.com fly rod giveaway – a fictional essay detailing the first fish caught with the Rise Fishing Company Level Series 6 weight fly rod and Allen fly reel. I haven’t actually won the rod – YET – but I’ve got my fingers, eyes, toes, and back hair crossed in hopes! Enjoy!

So it’s been just a few short weeks since I checked the Fish Heads forums and had my heart stop – I looked at the Winner’s Circle thread for the Rise rod contest – and started squeeling like a school girl! There, in bold size 12 print in the number one slot was Floggin’ Water – my blog – ME! Oh joyous happy day! After running six laps around my computer room, pinching myself, and triple checking the monitor, I ran into the bedroom and got my wife, and made her read the screen. She patted my head and said “That’s nice dear. Don’t forget my birthday is tomorrow. You DID make dinner reservations, right? RIGHT?” I flushed – and my brain stopped working. “RIGHT!” I replied (I did, I swear I did!)

Three days ago I came home from a tow to Eugene, walked in the door and kissed my wife and my baby boy, and asked if my package came. My wife, being the type who loves to taunt me – pretended not to hear me. She turned on the dish washer, the microwave, and the washing machine. She banged pots and pans together pretending to prepare dinner. After shouting my query at the top of my lungs for the fifth time, she turned around with the biggest, most evil grin I’ve ever seen and pointed toward the living room. I ran in there like a 5 year old to the Christmas Tree.

There were two packages – a cardboard tube about 3 feet long, and a US Postal Service small flat rate box. I grabbed my trusty CRKT M16 folding knife and carefully, gingerly, opened both packages. Oh my – that Allen reel was so nice – it was lighter than I expected it to be. The decal from Rise Fishing was awesome – I decided to slap that right at the top dead center of my rear window on the Jeep – so it would be most visible. Got to pimp such a great company after all! Then I pulled the rod carefully from the cardboard tube. My pulse raced as I slid it from it’s rod sock – like King Arthur drawing Excalibur from it’s scabbard. Being cautious of the ceiling fan, I assembled the rod’s pieces and gave it a wiggle. I was in love!

It’s been a wet, cool spring – so my original thought of chasing largemouth and smallmouth bass at my favorite lake was put aside, in favor of chasing wild, scrappy cutthroat trout on the Wilson River over on the coast. The Wilson, being one of my favorite fishing rivers – wouldn’t disappoint. I called my nephew and set up a fishing trip – he’s always up for fishing – even if it means skipping school (boy has a bad case of Senioritus anyway, I just inflame it from time to time.)

The first thing I did after an hour of drooling over my new prize, and pinching myself to ensure that it really, honestly was in my hands, was to jump in the jeep and drive down to my favorite fly shop – River City Flyshop, in Beaverton. I took the rod and reel with me, so we could find the right line for it. I got Don, the owner to come out to the parking lot with me and give the rod a wiggle. I asked him for a recommendation for a line. He grinned and said “I’ve got just the line for you” – and headed inside. A moment later he came out with a reel loaded up with a subdued green line. “Try this one, it’s Scientific Angler’s newest weight forward 6.” I did – and after a couple get-to-know-each-other casts, I single hauled a 60 foot cast out along the side walk. Nice! So I had to know what my limits with this rod would be, I stripped more line off the reel, stripped some line back in, and started false casting. A double haul later, and 75 feet of line shot out of my hands and laid out nice and straight on the sidewalk, the leader zinging past an older lady’s nose, who was just walking out of the hair salon. I thought she was going to have a heart attack – then when she realized what had just happened, I thought I was going to be soundly beaten about the head and shoulders with an umbrella. Many rapid apologies later, she got into her Buick and left the parking lot – only clipping two parked cars on her way out. I thanked Don, gave him my money, and took my new line home to load up.

This morning we got up early. I didn’t sleep much last night – I was too excited and anxious about today’s trip. I kept having visions of 18 and 20 inch sea run cutties swimming through my head. We got to the river at 7 AM – an hour later than I’d like, but my nephew insisted we stop and get breakfast and something to drink.

Surveying the run, I spotted a wonderful looking eddy behind a boulder the size of a Volkswagon Beetle. I just KNEW my fish would be there. Trying to calm my nerves, I pulled out my box of streamers, looked them over well – like a general inspecting his soldiers. “I think YOU will do nicely,” I said as I plucked a size 8 Olive Lead Eye Bunny Bugger from the ranks. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite flies – this one is tied with a marabou tail, like a Woolly Bugger, but instead of chenille and hackle for the body – it has a body of dubbed rabbit fur, and a “hackle” of a tightly palmered thinly sliced cross-cut Zonker strip. This fly just comes alive in the water. Add to it the 1/40th oz lead eyes, painted with a neon green eye with a big black dot in the center, and I KNEW this would catch my fish. I tied it on my hand tied tapered leader and triple checked my knot. I stepped into the cold water of the rivers, feeling the pressure against my legs through my waders, it felt good. I felt alive. I double checked the drag on my new Allen fly reel and stripped forty feet of line off the reel. Letting the line slip through the guides and straighten out down stream, I gave the rod a flick of my wrist to bring the high floating line off the surface and into the air – one false cast to get the direction right, and then BAM – fire the line into the head of the eddy. The Bunny Bugger actually bounced off the rock and into the pool. I let the fly sink – but it didn’t sink long.

The take was VIOLENT – the fish slammed my fly like it hadn’t eaten in months, then started heading toward Portland. He shot out of the eddy and began running upstream, that new reel SINGING like a choir! Ah, yeah, that’s the stuff! I brought the rod down parallel to the surface of the river and the rod throbbed as it slowed the fish’s run. I looked down and saw that I only had a few turns of fly line left on the reel and I began pumping and reeling to get the fish back toward me. He gave me twenty feet of line before showing me who was boss again – taking back everything I’d gained and then some – not stopping until there was fifty feet of backing line in the air. I started moving upstream as fast as I could, carefully avoiding the drop off into water that I couldn’t see the bottom of. I was reeling like a mad man.

I forgot my nephew even existed for a moment – until he caught up to me hooting and hollering. He’d pulled the camera out to get video. I finally got fly line back on the reel and got the fish coming in to me. He turned it into a close quarters battle- jumping once, then twice, then three times. Each time the fish broke the surface my heart stopped – I was afraid the barbless hook would slip free from the fish’s jaw and that would be that. It held though – each time – the third time I got a GOOD look at the fish – it was no sea run cutthroat – but it WAS a sea run trout – a wild sea run rainbow trout – aka Steelhead. SWEET! First steelhead in years, on my first cast with my new rod! How much luckier could I get!

After one more short run, the fish relented to my pressure and came to hand reluctantly, giving me a good spray of water with her tail as I tried grabbing her. I did though – and there was my Bunny Bugger, right in the middle of her bottom lip. I slipped the barbless hook out, raised the beautiful six pound summer run hen out of the water for a quick “hero shot” and put her back in the water. It didn’t take but a few pumps to revive her, and she gave me one more shower with her powerful tail as she shot back to the depths. My heart resumed beating. I felt my forehead – I was sweaty. I was shaking, I was excited, I turned to my nephew who gave me a thumbs up. I looked down at my new Rise 6 weight and smiled. “Looks like we’re going to be good friends!” I said to it. I checked the knot on my Bunny Bugger. I looked at my nephew, who has only been fly fishing for a few weeks, and extended my rod hand to him. “Wanna try?” His eyes lit up, he took the rod, and I smiled. I knew this day he would land his first fly-caught fish, and he did, with my new Rise rod.

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One Comment

  1. d. nash / Apr 22 2011 05:27

    ha! I love it! Great essay. I felt like I was actually there and I've never been to Oregon.

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