The swamp

There’s a spot not far from home that I fish every so often. It’s not a great spot, per se, but it still calls my name a few times a season. 

For starters, it’s a beaver pond – that mythical body of water we’ve all heard about. They are, according to reports, always worth investigating. It also holds a special place in my heart as one of the first places I caught a fish while fly fishing (a brook trout, no less). 

Mostly, though, this spot is awful. It’s right by the road and access is hard. The bugs are horrific most of the time. Casting is nearly impossible. And, outside of that one time almost 10 years ago, I never catch fish. 

Because of all that, I always set my expectations low – so low I’m happy if I can make one nice cast and not somehow manage to grab a handful of stinging nettle. 

Today wasn’t looking good. The whole area was way more overgrown than usual. My hope of making a good cast was getting lower by the second as I fought my way through the brush. 

I had to rethink everything when I finally got in. My usual spot, along the beaver dam, had grown in. The beaver must have been removed because the whole thing was thickly lined with small willow branches growing at all angles. My only option was to try the other side and try to cast from among the cat tails. 

I hopped lightly along the tufts of dirt that the cat tails called home. I’d spent enough time in swamps as a kid to know I couldn’t trust anything. Even the most solid-looking spot could disappear without warning the moment I stepped on it. I eventually found a spot and made a cast. To my surprise, a small brookie sucked the fly down. The afternoon was off to a good start.

My options weren’t much better on the other side. I pushed a bit farther into the swamp and found another spot that, while not ideal, would let me put a fly on the water. Almost immediately, another brookie rose from the bottom. I panicked and pulled the fly away before the fish even got close. 

I took a deep breath and made another cast. The fly landed in more or less the same spot. I took another breath and watched, calmly this time, as the fish rose again. This time, I didn’t panic. I patiently waited until it had the fly, then set the hook.

It was a perfect example of a beaver pond brookie. Small, eager, and all coloured up for fall. 

I spent most of the next hour or so casting around the pond without much luck. I could see the fish, but they weren’t interested. I didn’t care, though. I had accomplished what I’d set out to do – I caught a fish in that stupid beaver pond and I didn’t grab nettle. 

As far as I was concerned, it was the perfect day. 

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