Just relax and fish

I was going through leader like a kid through candy corn.
Drift. Drift. Drift. Drift. Tie. Drift. Drift. Drift. Drift. Tie.
I wasn’t really only giving my flies four drifts then changing, but in the context of a day fishing, it was pretty close.
I spent October 15 through 20 on the Upper Sacramento and got into fish the first two days, but was mired in slow fishing to start the third.
The Fly Shop in Redding recommended birds’ nests, Jimmy legs and some may fly nymphs which got me into some real nice fish to start the trip, but those same patterns were yielding nothing on day 3. so I went through just about everything in the box fishing nothing long and spending most of my time standing on the edge of the water tying knots.
This can happen.
In June, my buddy Steve and I were fishing the Thorne River on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. We called the spot “the Dolly Hole” because trout, and especially Dolly Varden, pack the rolling pocketed river bed in the slow water. From the shore this swath of river looks like it should be deep, but the water is just calm and wide, no more than three feet at the head of the Dolly Hole.
We waded out and Steve was instantly into fish. We were both fishing prince nymphs but he was getting all the action. I switched flies. Still he brought in a dozen for every pair I netted.
“Just fish it,” he said smiling a three-word reminder that it’s the fishing as much as it is the pattern.
I went to a shrimp pupa type pattern and concentrated on fishing, not worrying about what I should switch to. The Dolly’s and rainbows piled up.
I lost the pupa in a monster Dolly so I tied on a prince, same results. Steve and I laughed back and forth in the calm rain as we caught and released fish all morning.
I thought about this while I was walking the train tracks near Sims Flat on the upper Sac. I hadn’t thought much when the fishing trip had started, I was just excited to be fishing and enjoying the relaxed drifts had led to hook ups. I figured the problem was how I was fishing rather than what I was fishing.
I sat down, took a few moments and decided I was going to fish a birds nest off a Jimmy legs the rest of the morning no matter what. They are good patterns that work, so I’d stick to them. With fly selection worry gone I was focused on fishing better. I made nice casts, covered the river with drag-free drifts and kept my line in the water, the only way to catch trout.
Within 30 minutes I had three fish over 14 inches.
Sometimes the fishing will slow, that’s just the way things work. The correct response when the fishing is hard is to fish hard.

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