Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fly Fishing For Rainbows and Hook In Hand

My over-sized pond trout, and hook is still in hand
My frist day of fly fishing a private pond for rainbow trout in Western North Carolina was aided by guide Jack Mincey who shared his Tips for Pond Trout with me. The next day I returned to the trout pond with my trusty Orvis Fy Rod and a plan to catch some fish on my own. At first the fish did not seem to be biting, so I practiced my casting knowing that the two-acre pond had plenty of area to cover. When I did see a trout rise to eat a bug off the water's surface it was in a cove that I could reach, while casting from a dock.

Dropper rig fly hook in my thumb - OUCH.
A couple of strips of my line and I was hooked up solid, but with what size trout? The day before I had seen that these pond trout came in two shapes, large and over-sized. When my fish made a run to the far end of the pond, burning drag and my hand as the fly line initially peeled, I soon knew that I was tied into one of the over-sized variety. What a Fight! Not only did this rainbow trout have 'shoulders' but he had room to operate, and I used my lifetime of angling knowledge to play the fish, never giving in to the trout's plan to spoil the fun and break off my fishing line.

Fighting a Rainbow Trout with 'shoulders' 
After a rod-bending experience, I stepped off the dock and into the water's edge to try and land the fish, even though I did not have a net. I surfed the fish up near the bank and tried to get a grip on the 23-inch stout rainbow, being mindful of the hook in its upper jaw. As I lifted up the fish, the slimy and squirmy trout made another play for freedom and slipped out of my hands, causing a second small hook rigged on a dropper to get lodged into my thumb. OUCH.

First attempt to handle the BIG rainbow started off well
My first instinct was to cut the line between the trout and the hook - which stops the fish from yanking the hook, and thus causing more pain. So after a lifetime of saltwater angling, this is the first time that I had a fish hook enter my body. I still have a trophy rainbow trout at my feet and hooked on my fly line that I surely must release in good condition. With the hook in my thumb I found I was able to hold and lift the fish by simply keeping it held out in a prone position. We made a photo, removed the hook with forceps, released the trout, and then had a seat on the dock to take a deep breath.

In a remote location, the only thing to do was to try and remove the hook using forceps for the quickest possible fix. Luckily, the hook was small and the barb had not come thru the skin. Using forceps, I grabbed the hook shank and pushed downwards and backwards, and found out that this technique makes human skin stretch up forming what looks like a tent of skin. I stopped that attempt, took another breath, wiped away some of the blood. I took another grip on the shank and tried the same procedure and this time the hook backed out of my hand, presumably through a hole that I had just stretched just enough to release the hook. While the hurt finger did finish my fishing plans for the day, I was grateful for the fish fight, and for another rich experience, full of emotions, along my outdoors trail.

To view a past blog entry about the N.C. Fly Fishing click Jackson County or Hazel Creek or Rivercourse.

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