Some buddies and I went to Spinney Reservoir, a noted trout fishery, the day after the season opened. Opening day at this lake generates a ton of excitement. Cars line up at noon the previous day, and there was over 500 fishermen though the gates by the time it was over. We were hoping the next day would not be as crazy. I read all the fishing reports I could find on a local web site, and was encouraged by what I read. I was really looking forward to catching my first fish on my new fly-fishing outfit! I had been out once before with it and got skunked. We all met at a convenience store and drove the 75-mile trip together in TimT’s truck. I was prepared for it to be pretty cold up there; we were going to be fishing at 7500+ feet after all. However, I was not encouraged when it started snowing on the way up. Good thing I brought a thermos of coffee!
Passing all the shore anglers, we drove around the lake to a nice cove that TimT has had some good experience with. TimT was gracious enough to let me use some flies he had tied the night before, and Oak helped me rig up. We headed down to the lake and got in our belly-boats. The snow had stopped, but air temperature was about 30 degrees, water temp was not much higher and the wind was starting to come up. Fortunately, we were dressed for it. Under my waders I was wearing long johns, fleece plants, turtle neck shirt, fleece shirt, hooded sweatshirt and a light jacket. To keep my head and face warm had a balaclava under my fishing hat. Any more layers and I was either not going to be able to cast, or my new belly-boat was going the way of the Titanic!
As we started kicking our way out, TimT hooked into a nice little rainbow. Wow, not 5 minutes in we already had a fish, no wonder everybody comes up here! Over the next few hours TimT and Oak caught about 20 really nice fish ranging from about 14-22 inches, while I was still empty handed. I had missed a couple of light hits, but nothing like my buddies. I figured I was not rigged properly, so over lunch Oak showed me some changes to make. Back on the water, the guys continued catching fish, but not me.
After listen to me grumble about still not being set up properly, Oak suggested that I try his rod and reel. I was excited now! Oak had caught about 15 fish already and I figured I would have the same results, while he could “relax” using my non-productive set-up. Less than 10 minutes later I hear Oak saying, “Ahh Joel, we need to talk”. I turned to him thinking he had found the issue, only to see my brand new, never caught a fish before, fly rod bent under the weight of a beautiful 16-inch rainbow. After (reluctantly) congratulating Oak, I said, “Thanks for breaking in my new rod. I knew I was never going to live this down; it would haunt me as long as I fished with these guys! But I had more important things on my mind at this point, I needed to catch some fish! Finally deciding the problem might not be the set-up, but more in the presentation.
After making some minor tweaks in my retrieve, I started getting some bites and soon felt the tug of a nice 12-inch rainbow. After a short battle, I was able to net, and release her. What a beautiful fish! It was still exciting knowing it was the first fish of many (hopefully) I would catch with my new rod and reel. Not much later I landed a fat 16-inch fish.
On the way home the inevitable ribbing came up. TimT and Oak had caught over 25 fish between them I had 2. But I will never forget that first little rainbow on my new rod and reel!
As a footnote to that day, TimT and Oak went up again last weekend. TimT landed his biggest fish ever, a 25-inch rainbow trout could not happen to a nicer guy! Nice job buddy!