Beavers, brook trout, and bow casts

There are two things that I don’t normally enjoy – early-season fishing and showing people my spots. Today I was doing both. 

To be fair, I wasn’t really showing someone my spots. I was fishing with another human, something that rarely happens. And, if I’m being really honest, these weren’t secret spots by any means. We were a handful of meters from the road, fishing a popular creek. 

It still felt kinda weird to be out with someone else, especially early in the season. 

It was a beautiful day. The weather had been perfect all week and both of us managed to find a bit of time off work and family to hit the water. Danny and I had been trying to get together and fish for a while now. This beautiful Sunday was the perfect excuse. He had the time. I had a beaver pond I wanted to explore. 

The beaver pond wasn’t quite what I was hoping it would be. There was a dam on the creek, but it hadn’t really had enough time to do anything interesting and more than that, there were at least three beavers actively moving around in the water. If there were fish above the dam, they weren’t going to be super active. 

Still, it made a good starting point for us. 

I made a few exploratory casts while Danny got set up. My luck was minimal this time of year. I rarely expect to actually catch a fish, so I was surprised when my indicator dropped almost as soon as it hit the water. I quickly, and quietly brought in my first fish of the day – a small brook trout. I was surprised for two reasons. The first was, as I mentioned, I don’t usually catch a lot of fish this time of year. The second reason was that for the last few years, I didn’t see my first brook trout until nearly August. For some reason, brook trout have been hard to catch in all my usual spots, so much so that last year I fished a bunch of new lakes hoping to change the routine (I didn’t). That’s beside the point, though.

When Danny was ready, it became clear he wasn’t used to fishing such tight quarters. This creek was like that. I’d learned so many weird tricks and tactics fishing it that I could cast in just about any conditions. It was a useful skill to have. 

“This might be a good time to use a bow and arrow cast,” I suggested after fishing his fly out of the tree. “If it’s something you can do,” I added.

“I know it, but I’ve never really used it,” he said. 

“The trick is to hold the leader, not the fly,” I said. “If you hold the fly you’ll end up with a hook buried in your hand.” 

After a couple of tries, Danny had it figured out. But, by then, we both agreed it was time to move on. There wasn’t much happening at this spot. We moved upstream a bit to check out a few spots I could rely on for fish. 

The first thing we both noticed was how low the water was (actually, the first thing I noticed was the smell of gasoline – the aftermath of a car that had gone into the creek a week or two before). Although it was early, there should have been more water in the creek than there was. The lack of precipitation over the winter already had anglers worried about the state of the rivers for the coming season. Seeing this didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the coming season. 

It took a few holes to find more fish, but I eventually hooked into another couple of brookies and a rainbow (and lost a handful more). At some point, Danny switched from bow casting with a dry to nymphing and his luck improved. He hooked into a few fish and finally managed to land a beautiful little rainbow in one of my favourite runs. 

After we were done, we chatted for a while. Danny was still relatively new to the area and excited about all the lakes and possibilities. I remember feeling that way more than a decade ago when I first got here. I spent my time pouring over the backroads mapbook and online forums looking for information about the lakes and the fishing. He was deep in that phase. We talked about the lakes around here, what access was like, and if the fishing was any good. It was good to have a conversation like that with someone closer to my own age for once. Usually, due to this area’s popularity with retirees, any conversations I had were with guys who’d been fishing for more years than I’d been alive. I’m not complaining, mind you. Having access to that kind of experience is invaluable, but so is talking to someone at a similar place in life as you. Especially when you’re both in similar industries. 

But more than that was the enthusiasm. It was great to talk to someone who was excited about the possibilities of the area. Someone who had a list similar to mine of hard-to-reach lakes filled with wild trout. That feeling is contagious. It’s refilling my cup, so to speak, for all the places around here I’ve already explored and the ones I haven’t had a chance to visit, yet. I’m looking forward to whatever the summer brings my way.

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