Zen and the Buddhist Fly Fisherman

April 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

German Brown

So I got to go on this amazing fishing trip with my friends Rich Schaaff  of EASTFORKFLY PHOTOGRAPHY, Rocky Maley  and “Scandalous” Steve Vance. Now I’m a crazy steelhead nut as some of you know, but as of late they have been giving me the “fin”. So I decided to go trout fishing so I could atleast get a fish to bite .

Ha good luck on that Mr. Nutto. I got to our destination, and I had been stressed out. This trip took some planning and the four of us had never really hung out. I’m kind of a lone fisherman most of the time . So this was kind of stressful .It all came togeather though . So Rocky had set up camp in this area where there was a long stretch of slow moving water.

We fished there for the first day Steve, and Rocky were indicator nymphing , both were catching fish . Fish surfacing all around us, I couldn’t touch a fish with my line let alone cast, for some reason that day ,and Steve was calling me a newbie all day. The wind was blowing and knocking my line out of the air. I must have tied fifty blood knots that first day .I was just having One of those days.

So later that evening we were up river and casting to rising trout ,and I got all tangled up .That was it, at that point for me. The line was wrapped all around me, and Steve was across river just laughing ,I just threw my rod on the bank in fustration .I told Steve I was done for the day .I headed down river to cross it in the shallows .Only to see Rich hooked up with a large fish which then broke him off .This just made my mood worse at the time ,and i kept on walking down the river, I felt bad for Rich .

Rocky to the rescue ! So I come around the corner and heres Rocky hooked up ,and he has a nice one on .Now Rocky was on a cliff above the water. So I can tell its a Nice fish .So I run over to help him out and yell to Rich,” Rocky has a nice one on.” Rich has been dying to catch a photo of a nice trout for months now. So I help land the fish, and Rich gets his shots and Rocky is happier then my dad eating pie at thanksgiving !

Now my mood has changed I say to myself this is what its all about, being here with your friends .So I just say the hell with catching the fish .We all head back to camp which is a great night of laughter and will be a whole other post .(look for kung foo kangaroo)

The next day we start out fish another area ,and this time we find fish. The water is slow moving again, I’m not impressed, but I fish anyway. Same thing browns rising and not taking so I say, “Hey steve you know of any place with moving water we could fish.” Well he takes me to an area with some boulders that isn’t more then twenty feet across .Now this is my kind of trout water .

So I start working up a small run and I’m blind casting. Hitting pockets and seams ,I see a snout of a trout come up in a seam and start getting in postion to cast ,when out of no where five feet in front of me a Brown comes off the bottom and sucks in a bug .Not just a brown mind you a monster from neptunes depths! Easily 36″ and he is feeding .Now I dont get to fish over trout to much anymore, and Im from the eastcoast where you have to go to hell and hunt for a fish like this .I about crap my waders people. So I start casting, on my second cast he goes after my 265 trailer nymph and I miss .My heart is trembling,  so is the rest of me, I continue to cast and the hear the guys start the car, and start to take off. I’m like what the heck are they doing .So I back out of the pool, and chase them down, when I get to them all I can say is big fish ! So they follow me back .Rich sticks his head over the bushes and all I hear is ” holy crap !” So he postions himself  for pictures and I continue to cast .The whole time the fish is still Feeding .I’m in the zone, but not that Zen zone they talk about so much, the zone of how do i catch this fish . So i try to change flies ,my hands are trembling, but some how I manage to get the bugs on. I make about four casts and bam he comes up after my fly, grabs the fly at the last second it’s head even comes out of the water .I miss! OHHHHHHHH .I should have just let him take the fly down . At this point the fish must have finally seen me  it vanishes.I’m so jazzed after that , I have to stop fishing ,the rush I’m having at the time was like none I’ve ever had . 

 The next day Rocky, Steve,and I come back to the pool and the fish is there, but it is very edgy now and moves off to the otherside of the pool . I cast to him for about a half  hour, and Steve fishes above me in another area .Steve hooks up and he is  into a good 26″ fish .Now steve fishes this little rod We call it the( pygme )cause it is so short a 5′ 6″ 4wt  and it is bent over like a willow but it fishes little tippet well and it cast to pocket water in tight areas like a dream . So we land this fish and she is a beauty .Ill post some pictures soon .

Steve looks at me and says,” There is a bigger one up there man and I want you to catch it”, so having no luck with this fish I’ve been casting to ,I decide its time to work on a new fish .Well Steve shows me the spot, and this fish moves next to this boulder .

Now this is where the Buddhist end of this comes in.There is a teaching about living in the moment .You don’t focus on the past, or the future, just in the here and now . Most of us don’t live life in the now, and I had this great insight after this teaching about Buddhism, Zen and the art of flyfishing in the moment . In the time frame of landing that fish for Steve, and then fishing for this fish ,I was really in the moment for once, in such a long time .I mean there was nothing else! No worries, no problems, it didn’t matter if I hooked the fish . It was all about being their with my friends, and having a good time to tell the story for later .

Well I hook this fish on the pygme rod a battle insues that is just crazy .When I hooked the fish it was like a moment of being out of my body and watching myself.The fish took me down stream,and the rod was bent over double, the fish  is huge . I’m just holding onto the rod , this is on 7x tippet ,with a size 22 midge .I’m crapping my waders here people .He bulldogs down, trys to break me off, and Steve is yelling get into the river. So Im chest deep and the fish hooks me up on a boulder, and some moss . I’m really crapping my waders.Steve jumps into action and some how gets the line out of the moss and the fish takes me up river back to the boulder where I hooked him .The rod is flexing, bouncing, and it is the only way this tippet isn’t snapping . So he runs to the otherside of the boulder, and gets me into the moss on that Boulder. Steve to the rescue again! The fish breaks away from the boulder, and heads down stream again .I’m just doing what I can to hold on at this point, we are wearing him down .It takes about three tries and we finally net him a 30″ brown. Best trout of my life ! Thanks Steve, Rich, and Rocky for the time of my life

The Nutman



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  1. Great story Mike! Sounds like a fantastic trip I wish I had snuck over to watch (ok, fish) for an afternoon. Time to put together that big group fishing trip.

  2. you know Rebecca I was thinking ,that it would be cool to have an all girls weekend for something like this except for me and maybe steve ,so that way I could take my lady out fishing and she could fish with some ladies .I think it might be easier to get her fishing with the help of some ladies .Ill have to think this through some more ,I have a few other girls that want to fish and it would be cool to have some experienced ladies there to help teach .

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