Tuesday, October 6, 2009

[fly fishing]

A few weeks ago I (Peter) had the awesome privilege to go fly fishing! A new buddy of mine, Randy Hellinger, offered to introduce me to the sport that is so popular here in Colorado. So one morning at about 4:30 in the morning (waaaay to early for me), Randy swung by, picked me up, and we were off on our grand adventure.

In about an hour and a half, after a pit-stop at Starbucks and some great conversation, we arrived at our destination: Eleven-Mile Canyon. Randy had enough gear to loan some to me, so the first thing we did was suit up: waders (mine were thermal!), boots, and fly-fisher vests. Now we were set! Or so I thought...

Before going on, I need to clarify something. I wouldn't necessarily call myself an avid fisherman, but I think I've done my fair share of fishing--even some peacock bass and piranha! So I was expecting a nice lazy day of throwing a line into the water, maybe getting a few bites, then calling it a day. What I didn't realize is that there's nothing lazy about fly fishing.

In fly fishing, you're constantly tying on flies (that's what they call the lures). If you snag your line on something, and the line breaks, you've got to tie a new fly; if the fish aren't biting the fly your currently using, you've got to tie a new fly; if you get your line all tangled up trying to cast (which I managed to do repeatedly!), you've got to...well, you get the idea.

And I haven't even mentioned the casting! Fly fish casting is not like other fishing. There's no weight on your line to help you cast, so with fly fishing you have to kind of whip your rod back and forth and, as you do so, gradually let out the right amount of line you need to cast to the spot where you want it to go. Sounds complicated, doesn't it? It's not really--it's just really active. And then, if you do manage to cast the fly exactly where you wanted to (which didn't happen all that often for me--especially in the beginning), you have to pick it back up and do the process all over again because the fly has moved down river. Think of it like this: it's about 60 seconds of casting for about 10 seconds "fishing." This video that Randy took of me might help explain things a bit better.

So you're constantly tying lures, constantly casting, and then you're constantly on the move! The fish (they're trout) are lazy--they like to hide out behind boulders and stuff where the water is nice and calm and they don't have to swim very much. So they just sit there waiting for bugs to come floating by in the faster moving water, and when they see something they like, they dart out and grab a snack (or lunch, or dinner, or breakfast--I don't know what kind of internal clock fish go by). Anyway, so as you're fishing, if you don't get any bites after a half-dozen casts or so, it's time to move on to another spot. Needless to say, fly fishing is a very active sport!

I have to say though, I had a very good teacher. Randy showed me how to do everything, from tying the fly to casting correctly. He coached me through my rough spots (believe me, there were many), and kept encouraging me when I was getting close to giving up. Thanks to his good teaching, finally at the end of the day, I was able to actually catch a fish!

Here's me "hauling in" my catch!

This is once I had snagged him (or her--do you know how to tell?!)

And here's what I have to show for eight hours of fishing!! I actually took it home and it's now mounted on my wall. Just kidding--it's illegal to do that! Don't tell PETA!

So there you have it, my grand fly fishing experience!