The glaring sun and a cool breeze chilled me and my grandpa. The sun fooled you into thinking it actually was a decent day, but the air temperature and wind told another story. This, of course, was the day we planned on fishing. As with most trips, the weather rarely gets the memo that you're supposed to be comfortable outside.
The weather didn't stop us, though. My grandfather wanted to take me to a local reservoir that (legend said) held large holdover trout.
I didn't really know what "holdover" meant, or what a reservoir was for that matter - all I cared about was that I got to spend time with him. Oh, and that I finally got to hunt for these mythical creatures called trout.
We rolled off the road on the grass in his red truck and started rigging up our rods. He hadn't used a fly rod in years, but always told me how much he loved his little bamboo stick. I was still too nervous to actually try the little fly rod he had bought me. However, when he saw it in the bed of the truck hidden between a cooler and a tackle box, his eyes lit up.
We could see some rising trout in the distance, and the light pressure this lake received hinted to my grandpa that it would be a good place to wet my appetite for trout on the fly. Or, perhaps he was thinking back to all the fish and memories he got from his little bamboo rod. All I know was, in my desire to please him, I took the 9 ft. 5 weight rod out and put on a brown piece of fuzz. I didn't know what it was called or if it even worked, but I made it and that seemed to make my grandpa like it all the more.
We walked on the dam beside the rising fish. I'll never forget looking down into the depth of this huge lake and watching a shadow move then come up and gulp at something on the surface. The fish were taking small emerging caddis, as I later found out. At this point, "emerging" and "caddis" were two words I had probably never even heard. My grandpa told me exactly how I should try to cast to fool these trout.
I sent my fly line sailing right on top of the pod of fish. I waited in agonizing expectation littered with doubt. You see, when you first start out it seems there is a strange line you walk between thinking fly fishing is impossible, yet also in a constant state of thinking, "Could this be the cast that works?"
Turns out none of my casts for an hour or so were "the cast." I had given up hope, but kept flailing at the water to keep Pops happy. He had landed a few fish on his spinning rod, and he continually encouraged me to keep using the fly rod. I thought it was some kind of sick joke at first, but then I recalled all the stories he he has told me about catching native brook trout in the mountains of Virginia, and catching trout in the many rivers. His stories inspired me to continue on.
After a while longer we sat against the side of the dam and cracked open a cold Dr. Pepper together. Our hands smelled like trout (I hadn't caught anything, but I liked to get them off the hook for him), and our brains were filled with trout. Mine only from old stories; his from fresh experiences.
After the Dr. Peppers were gulped down, I went back to my ritual flogging of the water. I changed my fly to another small brown piece of fuzz that had a small silver brass bead on the front of it -another fly I had made. When the sun hit the little bead just right I could even see the silver shine through the water! I was admiring the shininess when all of a sudden I saw one of those shadows emerge on the right side of my little reflective fly. All of a sudden, the shiny glare stopped and I saw the fish turn to head back for the depths. I couldn't believe he stole my fun, so out of anger I set the hook like a wild caveman whose last steak was stolen. Somehow the hook didn't rip loose and after a second I realized I had a trout on the end of my line!
The excitement I felt as a young lad was thrilling - no roller coaster could compare to the whizzing of my line off of my little cheap reel - I had no clue what a drag was, and so I let the fish keep running into what I now know was the backing before my grandpa noticed what was happening.
He reminded me I needed to reel the fish in, and under his bushy mustache I could see his smile.
After the course of a minute or so I got the foot-long rainbow trout to the long-handled net. It was a glorious moment of triumph. I had fooled one of these mystical creatures from the depths with a stupid piece of fuzz a brown feather, and a shiny silver bead. I released my "lake monster" to grow bigger, though I already thought him to be of admirable size.
We packed up and went home after that fish. I was tired from all my trout wrangling and wanted another Dr. Pepper.
I'm not sure who caught who that day - did I catch a trout or did trout catch me?