Jump to content
Fly Tying
MuskyFlyGuy

My most memorable failure

Recommended Posts

We have all had successes, but what about the one that haunts you at night. 
Early November three years ago I was driving North from Minneapolis to meet up with my guide. The temperature was 31 and was going to warm to the mid 30s by the afternoon. A little rain was freezing on contact and 35 was becoming a skating rink. Cars and trucks were piling up in the ditches. I counted six before I pulled off and went to a truck stop. It was full, so I had made a good decision. I called the guide and he said there was no ice 15 miles North. I told him I was going to have a hot chocolate and would meet him at Tobies. After 30 minutes I saw some Highway Department trucks go by and spread sand/salt and decided to follow them. We met up at Tobies and went to our launch site. The river was lifeless all morning and had not warmed before we ate lunch. After lunch felt different, it was colder and ice was forming on my line and filled my guides. After every second cast we scraped ice off my line and broke it out of the guides. Getting cold, no life in sight, fighting the ice, and struggling to keep a positive attitude. About 400 yards upstream from the takeout, after my first strip a huge mouth came out of the water and engulfed the fly. I stripset the fly as the massive head shakes came toward the boat. I caught up with the fish and set again. I was getting excited as I had a good steel leader and was using my 12 weight. As the fish approached the boat, we could see a big, gnarly fish, well over 50”. She had a lamprey stuck to her on each side. She did two circles by the boat and I remember saying something atypical for me, “get the f***ing net”.  We got her close to the boat on a third circle, the net is ready, and the hook pops out. No more resistance on the line. We both stood there in stunned silence as she went back to the bottom of the river. I sat down and the guide asked if I was going to cast and I said I was done. Don’t even remember floating that last 400 yards, but I felt cold to my heart. 
last winter I got a text from the guide one night

Are you thinking about her?

Yeah

Me too

He says that was one of two fish that haunts him. Me too, I dreamt about her every night for a year. I am doing better now, but every once in a while I still think of her. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally don't count that as a fail. If we caught every big one we hooked it wouldn't be that special when we do catch them. I wonder if that fish sticks out more in your mind because you didn't catch it than it would if you had caught it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, MuskyFlyGuy said:

Are you thinking about her?

Sorry for your loss, but that was well told.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MFG, good story. What was it? There is a very rare bunch of fly fishing purists that clip the point off the fly and only count the strikes. The don't have to unhook fish but just count the strikes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know the feeling oh so well, for me it was many years ago winter steelheading on the Ausable river. I was fishing a 7 wt. rod I built as Michigan mother style drift rod with a Shakespeare 1810 under spin reel. My father-in-law and I fished every weekend up there after bow season ended, it had been along winter and I not even hooked a fish. One day while walking down river I came across a spot that just looked real fishy,  fishing a springs wiggler it took a bit to get the right chuck and duck drift. But finally just ticking bottom I got unmistakeable light steelhead take.  Setting the hook I could feel the head shakes of a good fish, and then a burning run, followed by me accidentally hitting the handle on the reel causing it to release line. This of course led to a major tangle inside the reel, I got the cover off and fumbled with mess, and then another good run and fish off. I stood there staring at the reel and then the water, the feeling of disappointment was pretty bad at the time, I never used that reel again, still have it and I like to get it out once in while just as reminder of my father-in-law and I some of the crazy outdoor adventures we shared.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

with one shitty cast, hitting my fly rod with a bead head nymph and breaking off about 6 inches of the tip section in a clean break.

fishing was done for the day ☹️

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Skeet

It was a musky. Musky fishers count follows. They are a low incidence fish, so two follows is considered by me a good day. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, flytire said:

breaking off about 6 inches of the tip section

Norm was it an Orvis? I had a similar break but without the bead head or anything hitting it on it's madden trip to the Cheticamp river, NS. It was close to a five mile walk in and a lot of time to stew on the way out to camp. Orvis did replace the tip no questions asked but after that I always carried a spare rod.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it was a loomis blank that i had personally built. luckily i was able to get a replacement tip

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frustration....poor presentation, wrong fly???whatever...No joy🥴😕   BahiaHonda bridge on my 69th birthday...

39A918DA-C2C6-4601-A468-96735E056B2F.jpeg

E4FC3610-5697-43E8-BF73-29A1B28C24AD.jpeg

98C07325-13CA-4309-B531-6D4250D3D527.jpeg

3EBD004D-2FD4-427B-85B5-D513A41D913A.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, MuskyFlyGuy said:

Skeet

It was a musky. Musky fishers count follows. They are a low incidence fish, so two follows is considered by me a good day. 

The fish of 10,000 casts. I caught a stocker below Dillon Dam in Ohio about 1960. Ten inches long and full of teeth!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My most memorable failure was up in Vermont.  I'd been fishing the upper section of the White River along Rt 107 for trout.  I'd worked my way downstream past the junction  of Rt 107 and RT 14 through the section where you could catch both trout and smallmouth along Rt 14 down into smallmouth water.  Somewhere between Sharon and Royalton, I pulled off into a parking area and walked down to the river.  I waded across to a gravel bar which formed the outside edge of deep pool.  Tied on a size 6 Estaz Bug, tossed it in at the the top of the pool let it drift down and retrieved the fly. Something took a shot at it but missed.  Decided to switch to a large white wooly bugger.  Chucked it into the pool and let it drift.  I noticed that my line seemed to be moving upstream against the current.  I reeled in the slack and set the hook,  a huge smallmouth jumped out of the water almost in front of me.  I had a been to Northern Ontario several times by then and had a couple of 20 inch smallmouth on a fly rod under my belt.  This smallie was much bigger.  I figure in the 24 to 26 inch range.  It jumped a second time and my tippet broke.  I plopped on my butt on the gravel bar and waited for my heart to stop pounding.  Reeled in my line and looked at what remained of my tippet.  If I hadn't been sitting I would have kicked myself in the ass.  I hadn't changed my tippet when I changed targets and the 5X tippet didn't stand a chance.  I didn't get back that way for a few years.  By that time Irene had ripped through Vermont and rearranged the White River.  I never did find that spot again. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fishing tidal creeks around Cherry Point, NC.  I was moving through a narrow creek, coffee colored water, throwing (again) a 5 inch Rapala.  As I moved through a bend, the water suddenly cleared ... obviously a spring in that area.  Almost immediately, I catch a bluegill about 3 inches long, on the tail hook.  In the clear water, I was enjoying watching that little 'gill fight and swim around.

Something big.  Looked like a Striped Bass ... from directly on top.  Sped up from under the boat and inhaled both the 'gill and the lure.  I was so stunned by it's sudden appearance, I just applied pressure to the line ... rather than rear back on it and set the hook.  Well, that fish spit the lure out.  I didn't see the 'gill, so I'm assuming he kept it.

If only I'd have set the hook, I'd have that big fish in the boat!  And probably for dinner!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its funny how the fish that humiliate you get engraved on your memory more than the ones you actually land.... I have three indelible videos available for looped reruns in my brain.

-- A 7-8 lb LM Bass hooked about 20' down coming straight up and jumping 2-3' clear of the water like a Polaris missile and spitting my lure back at me. ( Last time I used a gutless rod on bass.)

-- A hot Pere Marquette steelhead out of Lake Michigan that grabbed my Mickey Finn and decided to take it to Wisconsin, I chased that fish who took off throwing a wake like a torpedo with a bent fin, He finally bended and then spooled me.  All this was highly entertaining for my 'buddies' who retell it w/o much need for prompting or exaggeration.

-- A streamer fly that snagged an apparently free drifting log on the Potomac and then turned casually upstream, ran deep into my backing and went into a dogged heat shake that broke me off.  Mammoth Cat or Musky? -- I'll never know,  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've written this fish story before and it still haunts me. 

We have a population of land locked Atlantic Salmon in a nearby reservoir and in the autumn they spawn in a small feeder river.  Typically they're 18" to 20" in size.  While on an outing last fall I was surprised to find myself all alone at one of the best pools.   It was half hour past sun up and I had on a #10 black Woolly Bugger which I was letting it sink 6' to 7' to the bottom and then stripping it back.  I typically fish for trout without an indicator so watching my leader is habitual for me.  On the 3rd cast of the day I noticed the leader disappearing below the surface at a steadily increasing rate, it was very subtle and hook sets are free.  Immediately I felt heavy resistance, very much like snagging a log.  Only the slow lateral movement of my line gave away that it was alive.  It fought me by diving down and holding against the bottom which is completely different than the typical Atlantic Salmon fight.   They usually go crazy, zigzagging all over the river and jumping.  To my knowledge there are no other fish species in this river that would pull this hard, it had to be a Salmon?  This guy felt very much like I was trying to reel in an old boot, then the thought crossed my mind - Was this a large snapping turtle? 

Finally after a few minutes I was somewhat relieved when I saw a Salmons back break the surface.  Then relief became excitement as he was 25" maybe 30" maybe more and fat.  This was the largest fish I had ever hooked on a fly rod and being a guy who mostly targets 6" -10" Brookies and considers a 5 weight heavy tackle this thing looked massive.   I didn't realize it at the moment but sadly I was completely out gunned.  I had him on my 5 weight but with only 5X tippet.  I was being very careful not over pull to protect the 5X having lost several big rainbows by using too much force in fast water I've learned when to let a fish run the hard way.  Still I had forced him to break the surface after a few minutes so I was wearing him down and victory was going to be mine.  I was winning and that black bugger was going to have a prominent place next to the other retired "personal best" flies on my fishing hat!

But then it got really mad... with a display of power that salmon shot across stream with a burst of speed and enough force that it snapped the 5X like nothing.  My leader might as well have been tied to the bumper of a truck.  SNAP!  I suspect my emotions here will be familiar, first there was denial followed by that sinking feeling as reality sets in, then anger "I only wanted to take your photo and let you go but next time I'll eat you you stupid fish"🤬!!!!   Another hard fishing lesson learned-

After leaving the liquor store I went home and made up some 2X leaders for what will hopefully be a rematch.   Months later and I still don't feel any better about losing what would have been the fish of a lifetime.  This sport can be maddening sometimes.  Fish at risk to your mental health.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...