Having your rod separate into two pieces is never a good way to catch a fish.
But that is precisely what happened. With a sudden sensation of weightlessness followed by an awkward plop, I realized that the top two sections of my rod were in the pond. Injury had been added to insult, as my companions had already been ribbing me about the particular rod I was using. We were fishing a mountain brook trout pond. Most of the trout were foot-long brookies. They were cruising the surface, sipping skittering summer caddis. My 6-weight rod and large arbor disc drag were, for all intents and purposes, overkill.
Whether it be my own defensiveness or the equipment itself, I wasn’t doing well. Sloppy casting. Missing hook sets. Tangles and knots. No fish were caught, and no fish were earned.
Being young and impetuous I decided to not fish smarter or harder. I decided to fish reckless. On went a deer hair mouse. If I wasn’t going to catch a little fish, I wasn’t optimistic I was going to catch a big fish either. Moving away from my friends, I began to splash and strip and splash and strip. The wide face pushed water and the little rubber tail made a wake. No fish were interested. At least I was entertained.
I assume that it was the torque from casting the heavy fly that worked the third ferrule free from the second.
Reeling the line in, top half jerking about wildy across the surface, I can only imagine the fitful and irregular motions imparted upon the mouse. Maybe that was what got the trout’s attention. Maybe it was the noise from me fishing out the rod. I didn’t have a chance to think, as the eruption under the fly, the hook set, and the reassembly of the rod happened virtually simultaneously.
The fight went on for what seemed like a long time. I’m thankful I had a good disc drag and a strong 6-weight. The brook trout finally got close and a friend snapped a picture as it thrashed just off the bank. It made one more run and then I landed it. The trout was the largest brook trout I had ever caught. Nearly twenty inches and thicker around than I could hold. Deep purple sides and golden hues. Tiny spots all over and a pitch black mouth. And back it went into the water without another photo.
That fish was the only thing I caught that day. I didn’t even cast again. It was an amazing three minutes in an otherwise frustrating afternoon. I’d take more three minute moments like that in a heartbeat. But, as far as I can tell, you can’t orchestrate real recklessness.