- Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:46 pm
Just to illustrate something about frustration and fly fishing, my last outing in the marsh, this was January 4th, went like this. The launch, I got my three fly rods tangled up pretty bad and spent a few minutes working that out. There are days, definitely more as I get older, that I'm just not as sharp as I would like. I get the tangles sorted out and paddle around and see sign in a place I've caught fish in the past, but I can't get anything to even bump the flies I try, proven flies in that very spot at the same time of year. The water in this particular location is just muddy enough to prevent me from seeing 100 percent that what I was seeing was redfish feeding. Finally, I move on, chalking up what I was seeing as sign was deceiving me as some sort of false sign because surely any fish there would have eventually taken what I tried, this was my reasoning.
I decide to drift a little next to a shoreline with scattered patches of shell. The slight breeze set up for it and little patches of reef dropped to slightly deeper water which has been a good structure to fish based on past experience. Still nothing goes for the flies. Then I get a case of tailing loops. I have an Echo BAG Quickshot 6 weight that is for me the most touchy rod to cast. I can pick up about any rod I own and get to casting well with it generally immediately, but the 6 weight Quickshot is a little different. I can go great for a time and then not. I'm blaming too much holiday cheer and the after effects of that, but I threw several bad tailing loops in a row and felt a rage coming on, but I took a few deep breaths and eased up on the rod and mostly started casting better. Had I had a bait-casting rig, I'd likely just used it at that point.
I came into another area with sign and scattered shell and didn't get anything to bite, so I decided to paddle right into the zone and confirm or deny at the risk of spooking fish just exactly what I was seeing. Sure enough, the water here is 15" or so and clear enough to see the bottom and clear enough to see redfish. I had a big slot zip by my bow, another swing by my Starboard side. I knew what I had been seeing as sign was fish. This was an elongated reef so I moved down off the spooked zone and to another part of the reef and staked out on the edge. Same sign, maybe a brief flash of redfish would show in the very slight chop and definitely mud boils here and there, mullet flipping, surface disturbances, wakes, all good things. But again, no love for what I was tossing which at that point was three different colors of redfish crack and one color of Borski slider.
I remembered I had some of those Gartside Soft Hackle streamers with me so I tried one at a wake creating, surface disturbing redfish. First cast out a couple feet from the next move of the fish, fish on. After that all the frustration I might have felt, it at this point was more just a perplexed feeling, melted away. Just by luck really, the code was cracked and the fish wanted that fly, it was obvious. I haven't used the Gartside Soft Hackle Streamer enough, just one time prior, to have built up the confidence with it that I have in some other offerings. The streamers sort of hover rather than quickly dip and that was probably the factor that change things up. The previous outing that I had used the streamers, redfish cracked worked just as well, so one could see how I might have believed more in the crack than the streamer. Redfish crack has come through so many times I was sort of deluded that it couldn't possibly not work if fish were present and feeding
The line I have on the 6 weight is an SA redfish line and is real slippery. I missed a couple of strip sets when I lost my grip on the line, but aside from that, things went along well once I changed patterns and I'm glad I hadn't the bait-casting rig along. It might have worked or maybe not, but it might have derailed the whole process of finally getting to the right fly with the right presentation.
Things can definitely not go according to the script that's in my head. I sometimes think I'm flexible and can adjust to what the fish are doing or want, but this outing proves to me really that I was slow to adjust, too fixed and invested in a plan that wasn't working. It all ended well, but I could have done things better and made better decisions sooner. Live and learn.