Exploding birds and Trotlines

Breaking even with a fly rod

Minding my own business in guide position just behind my wading angler, I was a few minutes into a standing nap when I was rudely awoken by a small explosion. There nine or ten feet above us was a good sized cloud of dark mottled feathers gently fluttering to the high water of run off. They fell very slowly and gracefully and against the dark spring sky it was hard to tell just how many feathers there were (a whole birds worth) and even harder to find the fuselage. The first thing that crossed my mind was that the kids across the river had updated their weaponry from wrist rockets and juniper berries to some real shit but I was way to far away from the porch they usually used as cover.
It was a perfect little forward stroke of a roll cast that ended that Swallows life, so good my angler didn't even feel the impact which broke the tip section."Doug" was pretty shook up once he realized he ended a little birds life. Like needed to sit and compose himself shook up. It was kind of touching.

Fighting back the urge to lighten the situation with some off hand Western New York sarcasm and scared to even grin, I just quietly rigged up the spare rod. The eddy river right at Perry's Riffle relentlessly held the corpse just within sight but just out of reach as a reminder. I patiently waited and watched, anticipating the king of Browntown coming up for a serious meal but it never happened.

Maybe if it was still twitching I thought.

We had to move on and Doug worked through it like a man and no lie was hooked up two casts after his brief morning period.

What a way to pump some life back into the trip.

By the way the rod was dancing it looked like a great fish so I was even happier for my new Buddhist friend. As we slowly gained line back on the beast in the heavy spring flow, the bobber began its climb from the water to the rod tip when I saw both of my flies right at the waters surface, but no fish. A high lift of the rod and a few more turns of the reel revealed what the situation at hand was all about. Doug had hooked a trotline.
 A trotline is a a very long, heavily weighted, heavily baited, anchored length of mono that is left overnight or for days, illegally, by horrible sports. I have cleaned up more than a few of these cruel torture tools in my time on sections of trout streams you would never expect to find one.
With the flies and mono in clear sight fifteen feet in front of Doug, the fish suddenly showed itself right in front of me. The poor bastard practically swam into my net like he knew I was there to help, not knowing how much he was about to help also. So now I have a happy angler and one very happy fish in the net with a 2/0 bare hook in his side. Poor fish wasn't even hooked in the mouth. Doug was smiling, I was smiling and I think the trout was even smiling after his quick cosmetic surgery and release back to freedom the way he might have remembered it if he actually remembered. It all helped Doug not remember.
That fish hung in the current break Doug's legs created for ten minutes as if to thank him, I figured it was Mother Natures way of making Doug feel better for breaking even. One stroke of the rod brought an end to a life and two strokes later it gave life back.


A couple of my photos made the cut for Dman's latest book Hidden in Plain View, check it out. Duane's third book is full of the usual great information in a format that's easy to understand and apply to up your game.  Buy it here


Fishing is awesome right now, Skiing not so much. Snow pack and the general winter conditions are the worst locals have seen since the seventies but on the bright side, for now, the fishing is amazing and there is plenty of open water, public and private and even a riser here or there. Look me up we have lots of specials on trips, schools and lodging.

Carry On

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