Small Stream Success

May 24, 2007


Offer the old lady who lives at the stream’s access point a ride home from work one day. Tell her how much you’d like to fish that section of the stream. Accept her offer to let you use her yard to launch your raft any time you like. Launch your raft. Express surprise and excitement at the high number of salmon smolt migrating down stream. Marvel at how skinny the stream gets and how the overhanging brush makes it nearly impossible to row. Hop out of your raft when the river gets too narrow to pass. Almost break your fishing pole on a tree. Thank the Good Lord that nobody is around to witness your struggle (you really look like you don’t know what you’re doing). Do you drag the boat back to the old lady’s house, or do you try to figure out a way over the unmovable old board that must have hung up in the trees during last year’s flood? Observe flashing and darting of silvery forms under tannin stained water. Forget the boat. Tie on a smolt pattern. Wiggle the fly like your palsied old eighth grade keyboarding instructor who just figured out what you typed with her typewriter. Hook a small dolly varden. Lose it in the brush. Hook another. Lose it. Grumble lightly but don’t lose your cool. There are lots of fish in there. Was that a big one? Hook and land your next fish: a small dolly*. The trick is keeping the fish in the middle of the current. Land a few more. This many small fish in one spot can mean only one thing: this is not the best spot to grab outmigrating smolt. It’s close, but it’s not here. The small fish always take the second best spot to hunt. The big dollies are nearby. Magically move your boat through the smallest part of the stream (also the deepest and the fastest). Observe that the fish are larger downstream of the old board. Hook a significantly larger fish. About fourteen inches. Try to ignore the river otter who looks as surprised as you are. Land the dolly, release him, and keep fishing. Exclaim out loud, “O wow,” as a massive dolly smacks your unraveling fly. Hook him and then worry about the choked stream. Too much underwater brush for a fish this size. 20 inches? No. This guy is two feet long. The creek is only four feet wide and two feet deep right here. In a couple of months, the creek will be teeming with salmon, a few of which will top thirty pounds. Right now, this ocean run char runs the river. He gets a half wrap around a black, rotten stick. He’s still on the line, but you have a choice. Grab the fish, or grab the stick. You grab the stick. Wrong choice. The line breaks with the stick, and the tired fish slides under the cut bank.

That’s basically how it’s done.

Now, break down your rod, and enjoy the float downriver to where the creek meets the sea.

*Now would be a good time for your camera battery to expire.



  1. So informative. I’ll remember all of that next time I go small stream fishing.

  2. So fun to read—I was totally caught up in the story…

  3. Nicely done and sounds like a fun exploration. You sure employ a lot of narrative styles.

  4. Fishy,fishy in the brook
    Isaac caught him on the hook
    whoops that fishy wiggled loose
    and Isaac fell on his caboose.
    Watch out Isaac when you launch
    Don’t get tangled in the branch.
    Thanks for giving us this view
    Even experts lose a few

  5. Fishey, fishey in the brook
    Isaac catch him on a hook
    Whoops the fishey it got loose
    Isaac fell on his caboose
    Remember Isaac when you launch
    Watch out for the hanging branch
    Thank you Isaac for this great view
    Even experts lose a few

  6. Sorry about that.
    Thought I lost the first entry and tried to duplicate it the second time.
    Interesting how we we remember and forget

  7. Wow that was a great story, i enjoyed reading it.

  8. Camera battery…sure. Heard that one before. 🙂

  9. A perfect, flawless story would be so boring… A great how to guide, TMF!

  10. hi from Spain.

    Great story I like it. Oh! Your photos are great.


  11. dad-i like to see several drafts of the same work. it shows dedication and quality control.

    gerg-i usually try to keep it simple and short. but not this time.

    varo-i had no idea the trout fishing was as great as it seems to be in spain. you live in some beautiful country and i’m getting to practice my spanish with your blog.

  12. Thanks, Spain is beautifull but the flyfishing is worst each year becouse here the catch and release is not practise by too anglers and the pollution in some of our rivers is increasing year by year.
    Oh! yes, you can practice your spanish with my blog althoug I´m starting to translate some of my post so you can undersantd it without effort.;-)

  13. Very nice. With an edit or two, this could be sent in, you know.

  14. thanks laura. sent in to whom?

    varo-thanks for the translations. i should have paid more attention in school.

  15. Stumbled across your blog in some traversing criss-cross of the ‘net that I cannot now recall. As a fly-fishing-infected-fool, I posted a link on one of my blogs that lead here, recommending that it was well worth the read.

    I think a few people misunderstood and thought that I was somehow connected to this. I’ve since made it clearer that that is not the case, but I think that may explain any quizzical comments you may have received. Sorry for the convolution.

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