I was asking for it. After last week’s blog I was a little nervous to go fishing. Writing about the first cast curse without never actually catching a fish on the first cast is poking the bear. I felt I was bound to catch a fish on the first cast the next time I went out, at least that was running through my head driving to the river. Early yesterday morning, I went back to a reach I hadn’t fished in some time. On the first cast, I caught a fish. Imagine that. It was a dink, maybe six or seven inches. I tilted my head back and laughed. I was asking for it.
I considered cutting off my flies and heading home. But I decided to ignore it. No quick photo, no rumination or worry, I would concentrate on fishing and keep the negativity out. Pay attention to the next drift only and pretend like that first cast fish thing never happened. Within a handful of casts, I worked my way a few yards upstream. A quick flash of yellow and I had hooked a good brown. Curse, what curse?
The trout moved quickly to my right as I was trying to set my feet and I momentarily lost tension on the line. As quickly as I was feeling I had beat the curse, it came back into my mind. Within a few minutes I had hooked and lost another fish. I was fighting back the doubt that was beginning to creep in. I switched from my double nymph rig to a dry dropper set up trying to reset.
“Concentrate on good casts and even better drifts”, I repeated in my head. The more I thought it, the more it worked. Over the next three and a half hours I had one of the best fishing outings I can remember. I stayed within myself and made good decisions to make short casts, keep line off the water, not to reach or stretch too far, mentally or physically. On a challenging piece of water, I was beating the curse. Or I was just finding a winning recipe with the ingredients presented to me. Either way, I was feeling good.
It was a breezy morning, but it didn’t impact my casting much. My focus was solid, almost as if the threat of the curse was pushing me forward. But the wind and the swaying canopy was unnerving, as the cracks and creeks of tree branches overhead felt like I could be hit by a falling tree branch at any moment. During the strongest of gusts, I was fishing in a narrow area of the stream valley. There was good water in front of me to fish, but I didn’t want to stick around to guess which tree may fall. There were at least two remnants of tree falls that were new since the last time I fished the reach as reminders to keep moving. I also wanted to keep up the pace to be off the water before the first tubers glided past me.
I reached a good spot to finish up and head to the car, but lingered to get a few more casts in. I followed the “one more cast” sentiment for a handful of casts when I felt a heavy strike. The hook set had the feel of a snag on a log or rock and then a head shake and strong pull. This was going to be a big fish to end the day. I moved quickly downstream to set myself up to be in a better position to land the strong fish. Beating the curse with a personal best fish would be the icing on the cake. I led the fish upstream of me and I felt it begin to fade. I lifted the rod in preparation to net the trout when I discovered it wasn’t the beast I imagined. It was a decent fish but just above average for the stream I was fishing, and additional movement caught my attention. A second fish was following my hooked fish. Quickly I realized I had hooked a double. For the first time in my fishing life, I had caught two trout at the same time.
Woohoo! I couldn’t keep my excitement inside and I let out a quick yell. That would be my last cast and the exclamation on beating the curse. Maintaining my focus and staying within myself led me to what I was really asking for…