First of all, thanks to a friend, who had been borrowing my third string waders, I was able to fish and stay dry this weekend. He had just gotten new waders and the timing was perfect. These are mid-level Orvis waders without some of the whistles and bells of newer waders, but they kept me dry on a cold day.
My new Patagonia waders will arrive today. And, I found the primary hole in my Orvis Guide Waders and I think they are repairable. So, I may go from no good waders to 3 pairs in a week. If I can get all 3 working at the same time, I'm sure my wife and son will be happy to get out fishing with me a bit more.
So, this past weekend was tough for me. A lot of fatigue from the chemo. I worked at home on Thursday, and barely had the energy for a 3 mile walk with the dog on Thursday evening, so no fishing. Friday morning, I was so exhausted I couldn't get out of bed until noon. The same was true Saturday and Sunday as well. According to my FitBit, I slept 52 hours in an 80 hour period. I was that tired.
So, I wasted the best weather of the weekend, but got out Sunday night in cold, cloudy conditions. I headed for a spot where two rivers converge. One river is always cloudier than the other, and I like working the seam where the different rivers meet, hoping to catch a big fish looking for baitfish emerging from the cloudy water to the clearer water. And, about my 10th cast, I found exactly that.
I was using my Hardy Zenith 4 weight, which might have been a bit undersized for the river here, but I just like the rod so much that I wanted to get out there with it. I was fishing a size 6 olive woolly bugger trailed by a size 14 Frenchy. I was mostly fishing on the swing, hoping to move the fly from the cloudy water, slowly into the more clear water.
And, about my 10th cast or so, I felt that distinctive tap. A second tap and the fish had hooked himself before I could even react. I knew right away it was a good fish. It came straight to the surface, doing some amazing tail walking. It was shaking its head like a mini tarpon, trying to get rid of the woolly bugger embedded in its mouth. And, in less time that it took you to read that paragraph, the hook came loose and the fish was gone. My first strike of the year. My first hook-up of the year. My first big fish of the season. And, my first fish story about the one that got away.
Nothing else happened in the 90 minutes I fished, and by then, in the cold and drizzle, I was done for the day anyway.
This same river system is about to get more than 10,000 cookie cutter stocked fish. Yeah, the tug is the drug, and I still enjoy the 20 or 30 fish days that come out of the stocking truck.
But, I'd trade all of those days for just one good wild fish, and I missed that chance this weekend. I think the fish would have been my biggest rainbow ever in VT, and I will return to see if I can entice it again.