Eventually my line tightened after a cast and seconds later a beautifully colored little brook trout was in the net. By this time my fishing partner, Minnesotan Scott Mackenthun, had already caught a few brown trout, slightly larger than my little brookies. Scott was using a “circus peanut”, a hinged banner.
The calm river was uncrowded, with plenty of cover to work on. Trout Unlimited recently received approval for a program that allowed some trees to be hinged down, felled in water to create habitat. Fly fishing for trout along these sometimes narrow rivers is not that different from fishing for crappie, bluegill or bass. Fish like to hide in shelter, often in hard-to-reach areas. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t hang on, you’re not fishing close enough.”
Mackenthun probably hung his flies in trees by the river and brushed more often than I did. He also caught about a dozen fish from both of me. Riley was baffled by the blockages, sometimes encouraging us to just break off the hanging flies.
Mackenthun started the morning at the front of the boat, giving him the first chance on all those prime targets. We changed positions mid-morning and he still caught several fish against mine.
There is something incredibly relaxing about this style of fishing. It takes focus and technique, a constant connection to water and its behavior. Besides the sound of the oars plunging into the water and the soft whistling of the fly line cutting the air, the tranquility is inspiring. (It helps, however, when the silence is interrupted by the splash of a trout arriving at the net.)