I get to guide and it’s totally my thing. But this blog really isn’t about that. I’ve guided a good run the past 10 days and watched a lot of fish get caught and even more get away. After a while…the angler in me gets the better of the guide in me and I just have to catch a few troots.
I don’t mean to toot my own horn…but I’m pretty good at this fly fishing thing. I cast and present the fly very well…no matter the technique…nymph, streamer, or dry. I play fish pretty well…I land more than I miss let’s just say. Over the past few seasons of guiding I’ve become much better at playing fish.
Playing fish is a dance. Sometimes I get to lead…other time the trout leads and I follow. Deciphering what kind of dance partner the trout is happens in the first few seconds of setting the hook. A spicy trout that wants to salsa typically leads and changes direction quickly while also getting airborne and twirling. Keeping up and moving in sync with such a spicy salsa dancing trout takes quick reflexes, instinct, and a handful of similar dance partners in an anglers history.
Trout that want to waltz play the long slow game and make big swinging moves that make the rod turn in your hand. These fish want to be lead…waiting for the angler to take charge and lead the dance. These fish are usually larger, smarter, and cooperative partners that test an anglers skill…don’t step on these troots toes…they tend to shake off the lazy or inexperienced dance partner.
But my favorite dance with a trout…the tango. The tango trout comes in two forms…the experienced, suave, elegant trout…that let’s the angler lead this intimate dance. The direction changes are robust and fast…with purpose, and an angler must lead the trout to and from the currents and depths with a steady confident hand and precise reflexes that answer the trout…not tell the trout. These trout are typically larger cutthroat that have been spun around the dance floor by inadequate partners a few times but when they meet a partner that is at their experience level…the dance becomes something intense and beautiful.
The second form of the tango trout dance is when the trout leads. The debonair and dark mysteious trout that sweeps the angler into the dance floor vigorously and with ferver. The initial hit to the fly will be forceful as if when your dance partner grabs your hand firmly, places their hand in the small of your back and moves you into the first steps of the dance with purpose. As to say…we are going to dance you and I.
Inexperienced dance partners will falter within the first few steps of this dance. The trout will lead with quick aggressive direction changes and large boisterous jumps with head shakes and tail kicks…like a flamenco dancer flourishing in a turn, or when the dance partner spins you into their body hard…and pulls you close intensely. These trout want to see if you can dance with them the way they want…if the angler can keep up they are rewarded with some of the most amazing trout in the river. Typically a large aged rainbow but other times a well learned cutthroat, who’ve seen more dance partners falter than not…this anglers…is the epitome of the dance between angler and trout.
I search out these tango trout…it is by far my favorite dance. The older I get and more dances I have with trout…the better I become at each step of all the different trout that care to dance with me.
But every once and a while…I meet a trout that leaves me breathless after the dance. One that makes my heart flutter more than any other…the kind of dance that’s three steps away from sex. The kind of trout that leads at first but then follows…but when a misstep is made they take charge and see if you can recover…the kind of trout that changes direction so rapidly it pulls the rod and turns the anglers body into the river…as if to pull you closer to make the entire encounter more intimate…so you can feel the intricate details of the current, how the fish moves through it, gliding effortlessly in places, then turning and beating its tail into the current bending and pulling the angler into its world…its embrace…until there truly is nothing but you and the trout…countering one another, feeling the river, succumbing to one another…all that is left is the river…angler…and trout…the dancefloor…and two partners in the spotlight…twisting, turning, stepping together…until the dance is done…there is a final embrace…the song ends…and the partners…part ways until another tune plays.
Have fun out there anglers…go dance with some trout.