Fly Fisher: Craig Markle
After he released the ‘chromed-out’ trout, he looked my way upstream and pointed to the dark pool I should land my fly into. I took a hesitant step into the cold stream as he continued downstream like a modern day fishing Moses.
The fast moving water seemed to retreat around him with every step. It was at that moment I knew that I had entered the water with a real Streamwalker.
When the fly, I tried to cast into the chosen pool, got hung-up in the branches on shore behind me – I knew my journey to becoming a Streamwalker was just beginning.
While untangling my fly line from the offending bush, my eyes tried to ‘take-in’ where I was. I had never fly fished in an area like this before. It was like the pages of my favorite fishing magazine had come to life and I was wading in a western Canada whitewater river. I was only 40 minutes from home and wading in a virtual trout paradise – somewhere on the Big East River.
It was the kind of place only a Streamwalker would know about.
When I was ready to try a second cast, I noticed that the Streamwalker was already releasing a second trout. Amazed, excited and almost discouraged the words of another master came to mind,
“Do or do not. There is no try…”
I started my backcast and methodically started working the deep pool with a small Adams. Slowly, I began to work my way towards the angling master. It took me awhile to notice at the beginning, but I am pretty sure he would watch and anticipate my route down the noisy river. He would leave some pools and underwater ledges untouched by his fly. He at least hoped that the trailing rookie moving, clumsily, toward him might be able to tempt a wary trout.
That was the only mistake I saw him make. I could not catch anything but suspended branches behind me and hidden rocks in the babbling stream.
Halfway through our journey down this section of the Big East River, we both stopped and rested on rocky boulders. He asked me what I was using and hesitantly I showed him the tattered fly barely clinging to the hook.
“That’s no good,” he said. “Use one of these.”
I think he slowed time as he reached for my fly rod with its shortened tippet. The route downstream had been hard on it.
Before I could protest with any kind of significant resistance, he placed the reel back into my hands with a new marbly, green-beaded nymph and fresh section of fly tippet. This time our adventure continued with the Streamwalker showing me how to read the water for ambush points, rocky ledges, and depth changes. He reminded me to start my casting close and finish towards a 12′oclock position when I approached a new section of stream.
“The least amount of times your fly hits the water before you let it drift increases your chance for a strike,”, he instructed while I struggled to get my nymph to reach a suspended tree trunk on the far side.
My friend made his way upstream to me and kindly gave me a lesson in false casting. My casting distance improved slightly after that but it became quickly apparent to me that I may not ever become a Streamwalker.
With a looming sunset on the horizon, we decided to make our way back to our vehicle. The walk back upstream was silent and tiring. The problem with fishing in a spot chosen by a Streamwalker – is the walk back. I found myself wanting to make one last cast back into the pools we had fished hours earlier. It did not help that I had not hooked any trout. Despite this fact, the experience of fishing in such an incredible and seemingly remote area made this trip very memorable.
Later that evening, I tried to explain to my father where I had just been fishing. It seemed my description of area landmarks triggered some old and almost forgotten memories in his mind. He shared some stories of, some 50 years past, how he had spent time on that very section of the river with his father. He then proudly announced that his dad had once caught some nice speckled trout in the very pool my adventure today started in.
It would seem that my grandfather was once a Streamwalker…