As the semester comes to an end and finals week rolls in, the same dilemma seems to come up every time. Study for finals or hit the river? For the most part, I have been able to figure out a pretty good balance of what I need to do in order to do well in school, while at the same time be able to get out in fish. Last semester I only had one final during finals week so I had plenty of time to fish. Last semester’s finals week fishing trip also turned out to be one of my favorite trips of the year. A good friend and I rented a canoe from the University and decided to take a float down one of the local rivers. Being a poor college student, renting a canoe for $17 and splitting the cost isn’t too bad at all. The trip was a lot of fun and also produced a few chunky fish. I did well on my one final and ended up pulling a solid “B” in the class.
Buttery Brown…Notice the leeches pouring out of his mouth!
This semester was no different than my last one, other than the fact that I had four finals to take this go around. Two of the finals weren’t very difficult and were just writing assignments. Both of my science classes would require a little more studying to make sure I kept a good grade in the class. Sometime last week, Brent contacted to see if I’d like to go fishing and as it usually goes during finals week I was torn…go fishing and potentially catch a hog trout or be stuck inside on a beautiful day studying for finals? I justified myself by thinking that I can always study when it’s dark out. It worked the rest of the semester. And night fishing in the winter isn’t very desirable, so in the end fishing won. We got to the river early and it was still pretty chilly outside. The fish weren’t wanting to move much for a meal and nymphing was the name of the game. Brent and I quickly picked up a couple fish, but no real hogs. We decided to check out another nearby spot that Brent had previously had good luck at and it paid off.
My first good ‘bow of the day
Brent immediately started tearing it up and hooked into a bunch of fish in the 18″ – 20″ range. I also wasn’t doing too bad myself but mine were a little on the smaller side around 14″. I eventually landed my first solid fish of the day and was pretty happy with how the fishing had been so far. Things started to slow down a little for me so I decided to head downstream and try another spot. I looked upstream and noticed that Brent had been fighting a fish for quite a while. I made my way back up to see if he needed any help landing the fish. He eventually got it in and it was a big beautiful ‘bow. Unfortunately, it jumped from his hands as I was taking a photo and the one picture I took didn’t turn out very good. We kept fishing a little longer and then things slowed down for both of us so we decided it was time to head elsewhere.
Beautiful Male ‘Bow caught by Brent
The move was a wise choice and the fishing immediately picked up again. The temps had warmed up quite a bit and there was still plenty of cloud cover so I decided to break out the 8 wt and chuck streamers. Two casts later I hooked into a spunky little ‘bow, only around 16″. Brent and I kept working the water and he hooked into a decent fish pretty quickly. I continued working my way upriver to a spot I knew held some real monsters, hoping that I could hook in to one of them. It didn’t take long and I hooked in to what felt like a huge fish. My heart started racing but every time I pulled the rod the fish would barley give. I saw a flash of silver and started making my way a little closer so that I could gain more control. Suddenly the line went slack and the fish was gone. I am still not sure what happened, but occasionally even a big streamer hook will slip out when fishing barbless. I continued to fish the run, hoping that I could get the fish to come back. I ended up catching another ‘bow in the 18″ range but it wasn’t the fish I was looking for. I headed back downriver to join Brent where he was fishing. The choice paid off and we each hooked in to a couple more solid fish.
Floppy fins and one Snakey ‘Bow
We decided it was time to move again and decided to go and do a little exploring. If fishing is slow, exploring is one of the best things you can do. If a spot is difficult to get to, you will often be rewarded by larger fish that have received far less pressure from other anglers. The spot Brent and I found looked really promising so we made the hike upriver to get there. A couple casts in and Brent hooked in to the first fish of that area. It wasn’t a monster, but it was a spunky little guy. It seemed like as soon as we got there the wind decided to starting blowing like crazy. Hucking streamers in the wind can be a bit frightening but you quickly become a master at the “Chuck and Duck” technique. Brent stayed on the lower end of the run and I continued to work my way up, fishing whatever little pockets of water I could find. Most of them were too shallow and did not turn out any fish but I eventually stumbled upon one that I knew had to be holding something decent. After making a few casts in, I had something big come up and swirl on my fly but he wouldn’t hit it. I figured I had blown my chance but still kept trying. I backed up a little from the ledge, made a cast, and this time let my fly sink a while. I slowly started stripping it in and it quickly got hammered. As I worked the fish up to the surface I immediately could tell it was the big guy I had previously missed. At this point in time, Brent was way downstream from where I was and with the wind howling there was no way he could hear me hollering for him. I had no net so I slowly fought the fish down the river until Brent was close enough to hear me. We met up and he quickly scooped the big male up for me with his net. We snapped a few quick pics and let him on his way.
All Colored up
This semester’s finals week fishing trip proved to be another great success and was one of those days that puts a smile on your face whenever you think about it. As soon as I got home, fishing was put on the back burner and it was time to study. I took both of my finals and ended up doing even better than I expected; an “A” on one and a “B” on the other. In fact, it was the highest grade I got on a test all semester in the one science class. Go figure. When most people were sitting in their apartments stressing about what they needed to get on the test to keep their grade, I chose to let a little stress off and go fishing. I ended this semester with a higher GPA than I’ve earned during any semester and it is clear that in the end fishing came out the victor.