Fly fishing in Utah was an out of the box activity for us, but we “waded” in and found it to be a relaxing new learning adventure. Our guide was a big man with a full red beard and fishing flies hooked to his hat. He was a patient and knowledgeable teacher. Our group lined up outside the hotel to pull on our waders and strap the fashionable suspenders over our shoulders. We stepped into waterproof boots then clomped around making fun of our new fashions.
Each couple had their own guide and we separated into their cars and set out looking for the streams. I asked the guide, “Does anyone have a legitimate bad mood when there is such beautiful scenery everywhere you look all the time?” He said,” we are a happy bunch of people here in Utah”. I rode in the car with my mouth gaping wide in great awe of God’s creation for the half hour ride to the stream. The stunning beauty of this place makes me feel sorry for folks who live their entire lives without remarkable nature to appreciate. I’ve lived in a few boring places like that and I was always relieved to go where it feels like “God’s country”. I live on the lip of Texas hill country and I thought our hills were beautiful until now that I see the mountains in Utah.
We stepped into the moving stream. The water was about fifty degrees, and the air a perfect 66 degrees. It was the most ideal day of the year. At first, it felt like I would float away, but then the waders sucked tight to my body and the boots anchored me to the rocky bottom. It’s a little work to stabilize against the moving current so I asked him, “how often to you go down?” He said, five times a year. I wore my camera around my neck so I wasn’t interested in taking a plunge into that cold water. This possibility of tipping over and floating away helped to keep my mind steady and focused on the activity rather than wander off into daydreams or sleep.
He gave us our three point instructions, set our lines, adjusted our technique and then stood ready with the net. In front of the stream was a pasture for cows and beyond were the Wasatch Mountains. The sounds of the river moving, the cool air and the hope for a catch with every cast were deliciously enjoyable. I could understand immediately how people could get “hooked” to this sport.
I caught three fish and Craig caught five. My fish was bigger than his, in case anyone wanted to know. He also caught a tree while I caught the bottom of the stream more times than I hooked a fish. Half way through our fishing he decided to take us to the other side of the stream and around the bend. The men hooked me by the arms, set me in between them and we pushed through the strong current. I am not sure how a person could do that without a partner. It was a most interesting sensation to feel the force of the stream and work to balance while moving forward. I think athletes should use it as a training method to walk against moving water in heavy boots and make good time without getting wet. Now that’s the way to run a race.
What I learned about fly fishing is that the fish nibble but it is our job to feel and sense the touch on the hook then jerk the hook to get the hook in their mouth. The fly bait and the hook are tiny so we have to participate in the catch rather than wait for the fish to swallow the bait like all the other lake fishing I’ve done in Michigan. Setting the hook when you feel the nibble requires concentration and sensitivity to the feel of the line in the hands. It is a game. It is challenging. The problem is hooking the bottom feels like a fish but it becomes clear that it doesn’t move and the disappointment is intense.
When a fish is hooked it runs away and there’s quite a struggle to bring him into the net. When I caught my big one the guide took my camera and captured my attempt to grasp the fish with my bare hands. He told me how to do it. I looked down at the rainbow trout in the net and I gulped. “Please don’t prick me I whispered.” This was the moment I was most afraid to encounter. I’m not one to touch anything without gloves. It was slimy and squishy and I really didn’t want to hold it, but I couldn’t be a princess with my own catch. When in my life would I have the opportunity again to hold a fish? I did it. It was a most unusual sensation. Usually just doing the thing you are afraid to do is the heart of the adventure.
Craig and I agreed that if ever given the opportunity to share fly fishing with our boys we would do it. I think they would love it and it would be a great family excursion. I’ll have to see if there are any guides and streams in San Antonio. Girls weekend fly fishing anyone?