Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day 63 - The Great Egg Debate

Today my wife and I headed to Stone Mountain State Park and went fly fishing. Understanding that the fish wouldn't "turn on" until the water warmed up, we took our time getting up and getting ready. After a quick trip to Dunkin Donuts, we were on the road by 11:15 AM. We arrived just shy of 1 PM, and I decided that for today was more about helping my wife learn than me fishing hardcore. After driving past a couple of spots that I was hoping to hit, we ended up by the old church (sort of apropos that we started there since we told people that we were attending the Church of the Babbling Brook).

I geared up and got ready. My wife doesn't own any waders yet, so I decided that I should be ready to "jump into" the river to help her land the fish. She put on her chest pack and then I instructed her how to rig up the fly rod. We then headed towards the big pool a little ways upstream. Another angler was fishing where the two streams merged. We decided to give him room, and fish a little lower. The water was crystal clear and with the help of polarized glasses you could see exactly what happening below the surface. We tied on a cheese colored Y2K pattern and worked the bottom end of the pool.

We could see that the fish were showing some interest with that pattern but no real solid takes. I changed the pattern a couple of times trying to zero in on what was the "golden" fly. Having such a clear view of the fish allowed us to really see what they were interested in. After about 30 minutes, we concluded that the original fly had the most trout appeal. We changed over to that fly. Almost immediately, we had a fish on. By this time our angling friend had decided to move on (after catching a fish then losing it when he got his rod tangled up in the branches of an overhanging tree). Kathryn caught a few more fish (and a few missed strikes) before the hole was kind of spooked.

We decided to try elsewhere, but before we left, there was a honey hole in the area that I found the last time I was there. I told Kathryn that I wanted to try that hole again since the last time I pulled an 18" Rainbow from that hole. I waded to the spot, and within a few casts (more like lobs due to the fishing restraints of the location) I had pulled a little rainbow out. Kathryn was on the bank cheering me on. I unhooked, and tried again. Another one came easily to the hook, this time bigger. After a few more fish, I coaxed my wife to ditch her shoes and wade out to me (by the way, water temp was 52 degrees). For the next couple of hours, my wife and I pulled fish after fish after fish from that hole. Rainbows and brookies, big ones and little ones, strong ones and sluggish ones... we caught them all.

As the sun was slinking lower over the horizon, the area we were fishing started to get dark. It was still really sunny, but the angle of the sun and trees started to drop the water temp and inevitably the fishing turned south. At this point we stopped for lunch and talked about where to fish next. We ended up deciding by coin flip, to fish the section where she caught her first four trout. We drove to the spot, and my wife was at it again.

The pool was darker here, with an inky black surface. It was also quite deep (took almost my full 7 1/2' leader). We added on quite a bit of split shot and lobbed it up stream. Within 5 minutes, Kathryn landed a beautiful brook trout. It was about 12" long and gorgeous to look at. She cast a few more times, and missed a couple of subtle strikes. By this time I was anxious to catch fish again. I took the rod from her and managed to catch a couple of fish in quick succession. I could see the dark backs of a couple giants in the water below and started to fish their lanes. I was rewarded with an 18-20" rainbow with the most brilliant cheek markings. As I was pulling the fish out of the water for my wife to take a picture, my line snapped and the giant slid into the blackness of the water. It was my fault for not landing the fish correctly. Instead of using a net, I decided to just lift the beast out of the water with the line, lesson learned. Still a great way to end the day. As best as we can determine, we caught well over 20 fish and that doesn't include all the missed strikes and those that didn't make the net (except for that last one, I'm counting that one).

Without exception, every fish we caught today was on some sort of egg pattern. Now I've read that some anglers feel that egg patterns isn't truly fly fishing. In fact, I've held that opinion in the past (and maybe I still do as I felt a little guilty about all the fish we caught today). I read recently that some fly fishing competitions don't allow the use of egg patterns or leech patterns as they are too effective in catching fish.

In previous posts, I've mentioned that fly anglers set themselves apart from other anglers as they impose certain restrictions on their selves so as to showcase their talent and skill. So, should an angler impose the restriction of egg patterns because of how effective they are?

Maybe. I can definitely see both sides of the argument and feel that both sides have their merits. On the one side, the egg patterns catch fish. They are hand tied, and mimic a form of food that trout feed on. The juxtaposition is that it is too effective, that a person might as well be chucking corn in the water and fishing with a treble covered in cheese.

I think the end choice ultimately rests on the individual angler. Now personally I'm one for tradition and all, but I think the occasional use of an egg pattern is perfectly acceptable (especially when one has trout fever). However, if that is the only fly that a person uses, then I think the person has crossed some sort of proverbial line. What do you think?

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