Monday, September 05, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: Another Beautiful Morn

A Royal Treat

A week has gone by without me wetting a line.

My hands twitched involuntarily at the thought of spending a hour or two this weekend at my favourite fishing hole, nicknamed the 'White House'.

The past week had been spent tying up new flies to be used in a clock that my friend had ordered from me. These belonged to a royal family of flies - The Royal Wulff, the Royal Coachman and the Royal Trude.

Since I started fly fishing, I've never caught a fish on any of the royal family of flies and so have placed them on the shelf than on the water. However, on his last visit back, my friend, Hun, showed me that these classics do work even on our local waters.

So armed with a couple of flies, fresh out of the oven, I went afishing.

Showers over consecutive days had created a cool, misty morning and as I stepped out of the car, the fresh morning air jolted the last of the slumber out of me.

In the demi-darkness, I could already hear and see the splashes made by the fish.

Around the bend on my left, I heard a loud splash and immediately made my first reach cast there.

As the Royal Trude landed, I anticipated an explosive reception but that was not to be. I waited for the ripples to dissipate before I twitched the fly and waited some more. Still no action. Stripping back quickly to recast the fly, I saw a huge bow wake surge up and chased my fly. It then gave up the chase and receded back into the shallow depths. With one back cast, I hauled the fly forward and laid it two feet from where the wake emerged. Waiting patiently, I had to hold back my natural instinct to move the fly.

Then, a vague black shadow appeared behind my fly and it disappeared in a little whirlpool.

The fly was well and truly inhaled and all I had to do was to lift the rod to set the hook. My 4wt Coho rod bucked with every head shake as the fiesty little peacock bass displayed its fighting prowess.

Now the sun was beginning to creep over the treeline to cast a slight orange hue over the water.

With each blitz, my adversary depleted its reserve of energy and over time, technology was to triumph over sheer brute strength. The strain on the rod eased and I slowly led the fish back to the bank.

What greeted me was a regal sight. 3 distinctive black bars set atop its golden green flanks, the defeated bass let me lift it out of the water with a comfort cradle.

Though conquered, it still maintainted an air of defiance as it looked me in the eye.

Not wanting to humilate a worthy opponent, I slid the barbless Royal Trude out of the mouth, took 2 quick photos and released the fish safely back into the water.

Having regained its strength lying motionless on my palm, the peacock bass bolted straight into the weeds the even before its body was fully submereged.

This was the only fish I caught that morning but I needed no more for I had come to prove that the Royal Trude did work and I had. Though the fly worked only during the short period of the magic hour when the sun was still struggling to climb above the horizon. For when the sky is lit with the warm of the sun, the bass will gladly ignore the dry fly.

Time and again, I have felt that the true satisfaction of fly fishing lies in the actual seeing of a fish rise to a fly and inhaling it and when it swims safely away when it is returned to its element. A joy that can only be understood when you have experienced it in person. A different, yet greater joy than when the fish is lying motionless on a plate.

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