By and large, the fishing has been pretty successful. I had a day about a week and a half ago where I stumbled onto a whole mess of hungry trout. 20 to hand in around 2 hours on the home water (a stream that has been the source of multiple fishless outings and even more lessons in humility...). None of the fish were large enough to brag about, but in the same way that I am not afraid to drink cheap beer on occasion...sometimes you opt for quantity over quality. All were caught on a BH Pheasant Tail under an indicator.
It was also proof that even a dolt like myself can occasionally get it right.
So tonight, after a gorgeous day of sun and milder temps...I headed out. Truth be told, it is a full moon and going fishing was my wife's idea. Methinks she wanted me out of the house... No matter what her motivation, I am never one to pass up an opportunity to go fishing so I blew out of the UnForest without hesitation.
With my recent 20 fish day fresh in mind, I was feeling cocky. Like I had somehow mastered the game of catching little ones and now needed to catch a BIG fish. Perhaps I was subconsciously trying yo offset the quantity with a little quality in an effort to find equilibrium? Maybe. Or...more likely...I just felt like it would be fun to get on the boards with fishzilla, photographed in the perfect "trophy" pose and the fish released-no worse for wear.
To accomplish this, I chose my fishing location carefully. Not too far from home (only had about 2 hours of daylight to fish), but in an area where I could work several lunker structures that are a relatively short distance from each other. Fortunately, I know of just such a place AND I have managed to spook up some good sized fish in the past, so I know they are there.
Targeting big fish (or commonly known as "buck fever") is a dangerous mental place to be. Once you have decided that only a trophy fish will do, you tend to lose sight of the fact that (A) fishing is fun (B) fishing is relaxing and (C) it is a privilege to catch trout of any size.
Ego takes over and goes to work doing what ego does best: it alters your perception.
Ego simply will not be satisfied with catching fish. Nope. Ego wants a wall hanger...and it wants that wall hanger NOW.
So after attempting (unsuccessfully) every tactic I know of to draw a strike from the giant brown trout that I'm positive is hiding under one of those lunkers, and quickly running out of daylight, I finally switched to a.........wait for it.................Bead Head Pheasant Tail under an indicator.
I drifted it down through the slot...and low and behold: caught a fish on the first cast.
I did not catch troutzilla. It was a typical sized brown trout (about 8") for the streams that I fish regularly. This fish fought extremely hard, jumped a couple of times and genuinely made me feel giddy inside as I worked him to the bank to unhook and release.
Somewhere in the action, I realized that I had wasted an entire fishing outing looking for what was right in front of me the whole time: just having fun fishing and being happy with a trout on the line.
I am immediately reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig:
The truth knocks on the door, and you say "go away, I am looking for the truth". And it goes away. Puzzling.
And so I chalk this one up to lessons learned the hard way. (A common theme in my life....)