I'm sure everyone's familiar with said nerves. They usually start long before you even get to the river when you know that there's the chance of catching a truly memorable fish. The anxiety quickly builds during the drive as you contemplate the possibility, and worry about blowing it. The nerves can arise in many different situations: the final hours of the final day of a trip chasing a certain fish, the one day you know you have to fish a particular water, the final day or hours of a season, or returning to chase a fish that you've seen but not yet caught.
Like Josh mentioned in his previous blog post, we put in as much time as possible this fall on several different waters, with one goal in mind: BIG browns. Some waters were local, and we were able to put in quite a bit of time. Others were far enough that with school and work responsibilities we could only make a couple of trips to them. So, to add to my nerves, in this particular case I was standing in the middle of a river that I knew I wouldn't be able to return to this season. There was no room for error.
Staying low to the water, I lobbed a cast toward the riffle leading into the head of the pool. The fly swung wide, not making it quite far enough. I let my line drift past me downstream until the current was loading it and flung another cast, letting out a little bit more line. I had a perfect sight line to the fish, and watched as the fly drifted straight toward its nose. I caught a glimpse of the distinctive white of the inside of a mouth as it opened and closed, and I set hard. I nervously lifted my rod, and the fish reacted like big fish often do, taking a moment to realize it was even hooked and then suddenly losing its shiz. I let out a giddy laugh as I saw the fish's brilliantly colored flank erupt on the surface. Then it was down to business for a couple minutes as I chased it downstream over some rocks and weaved line through a deadfall mess on the side of the river to untangle the fish. One last run and I got it under control and slid it into the net, which could barely contain it.
Dedication can mean a lot of things, but I think one important aspect is time. We put time into the things we value, whether that be short or long term. Aside from fishing, I would consider myself pretty dedicated to school and my job, since I'm trying to get a grad degree to be in a career path that I'm passionate about. I spend a lot of time on school and work, and this fall was no different. It's pretty inconvenient that the best brown trout fishing coincides with the end of fall semester. I also have an awesome (and hot) wife who supports both my career aspirations and my fishing addiction. Because she's so supportive, I can't just ditch her to fish all the time either. Spreading your time between the things you value can be hard. There were many days this fall that I was sitting at a desk feeling tormented knowing Josh was out on the water. However, dedication over the long term is just as important, and is why I was able to catch some amazing fish this year. I've been researching the water where I caught this fish for several years, making trips each year, and gathering more and more information. For three years straight I came up empty handed, but kept at it and was able to reap the reward this year. It's the same story with a lot of different waters for us at Crimson Jaw. Dedication requires both short and long term commitment, and time put in both on and off the water. But if you are truly dedicated, the payoff speaks for itself.