In October, a good friend of mine, Andrew Campbell gave me a call to invite me to go fly fishing with him down at Taneycomo. I had never been fishing down there and in fact, had not picked up my fly rod for many years. Andrew had invited me on this trip several times over the years and I was not able to make it down before, but this time was different.
We made it a marathon trip. We left Kansas City around 5 pm on a Friday night, got down to the river and started fishing around 9 pm. We fished all night and the next morning. Around 10 am the next morning, we headed into town and grabbed some much needed food. We hit the river again and fished all day until about 11 pm Saturday night. We then jumped in the car and drove back to Kansas City. No sleep yet, but a lot of fish!
I have to be honest and say Andrew schooled me on the fly fishing, but he is a great friend and instructor and helped me get started again. We met one of Andrew’s friends down at the river, Leonard, who is a local fisherman and an avid fly guide, and he hooked us up with some great flies. Once we had some “bugs” in the box, we were off. About 10 steps into the water, I quickly realized I was not able to see squat. Fly fishing in the dark, in a stream I have never seen during day light? Where are the trees, overhanging branches, rocks underfoot, holes to step in, boulders and sunken logs to trip on? To top it all off, I had a very nice leak in my left wader boot that quickly filled up my from my knee down. We were standing in October cold water, mid 30 degree air temperature, leg full of water and fishing in the dark. To be honest, I never skipped a beat and dug into the challenge. We had a blast.
Once the sun came up, the game totally changed. For the first time I could see the river, holes and fish hiding in the holes and for the first time, I realized it was a target rich environment, and I could finally see my target. The challenge became lighter line, smaller fly and tapping the fish on the nose with the fly. I felt I was improving quickly and could finally use some actual fly fishing skills and go after a targeted fish. This was a blast.
At one point, the river started rising and I went to a top water dry fly, with a dropper with a red beaded thing under it. I think I had 8 fish hit my dry fly in a row, I caught 3 and broke one off on the lower red beaded fly. With the sun up, cool air, current rushing past my waist, throwing dry flies out as far as I can to the hole they were in, I could not have been happier. I tried to holler at Andrew and have him come over, but he was busy with his own fish. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, and soak in the moment. I was in the Zone. It is what we all strive to feel when we go outdoors. This old dog learned some new tricks. We went again several weeks later, but that will be another post!
~ Jon Jaeger