Later that evening I would feel much better about my inept casting when Jerry Darkes conceded to resorting to a traditional overhand cast with his spey rod to cope with the winds. But at the time my frustration only grew. I could turn and cast with the wind, but the water too my back was shallow and I had hiked through that run to get into casting position. Finally I surrendered and hiked downstream to the boat for some nourishment and a mental break.
Fly fishing shouldn't ever be a source of frustration -- Herbert Hoover warned that no one can catch a fish in anger. Thankfully it is hard to stay frustrated in Alaska for long. With bald eagles overhead, brown bears on the bank and few signs of the wound's cut into nature by man, I was quickly back to remembering, as Judge John said in his classic Testament of a Fisherman, that fishing is both a source of delight and an act of small rebellion.
I was ready to rebel against the wind and hook my first Alaskan rainbow on the swing. Kyle pointed to a flat rock that protruded midstream more than 150 yards upstream and encouraged: "Walk as far as you can toward that rock and then cast toward the bank. Most people fish this stretch, and few people fish up there."
There is a point in each swing when the current pushes a large bow in the line and fly begins to whip around a little faster -- it's the fly fishing version of crack the whip. Sometimes this added speed scares off a fish and sometimes the speed makes it harder for the hungry trout to closely inspect the fly so they simply grab it as it swings by. Much to my delight on this first cast a trout grabbed the fly and I swept the rod upstream to set the hook. In response a two-foot long silver and pink rainbow burst from the river, flipped in the air and splashed back into the water. I let out a celebratory whoop, Kyle turned from watching my colleague Bob downstream, grabbed the net and hopped out of the boat and hurried upstream. He made the hike in embarrassingly quick time as I managed the trout's multiple runs. He quickly netted the fish. I snapped a few pictures and we released the trout.
|The first rainbow on the swing|