By Andrew Pile, FRC Fan
(We were thrilled to read this comment by one of our awesome FRC fans, Andrew Pile, and with his permission are posting it to share the joy and inspiration with others. We hope you enjoy it as we did. Thanks, Andrew!)
I am writing to simply say thank you…in a long, drawn out comment. I am a 41 year old proud West Virginian. I reside in South Charleston, but my heart has always been in the mountains of West Virginia. I grew up learning most of what I know about fishing at my family camp on the Greenbrier near Talcott. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that I took a true interest in fly fishing and really not until my mid 30’s did I start to act on it.
Because of my proximity, time restraints, and the fact that I mostly fish alone and on a whim sometimes, I have cut my teeth on the catch and release of Paint Creek. I’ve fished a handful of our streams from North Fork to Blackwater and Cranberry to Cherry. I have so much going on that I don’t get the chance to advance my skills at a satisfactory rate. Running our family business, married with a son, multiple other interests…I have plenty of excuses for not being better, but be that as it may I would call myself a low level intermediate fly fisherman. Nevertheless, I watch your show when I catch it and last week I watched an episode of the fishing tournament on the North Fork.
Now what I am going to refer to will seem elementary to you but when they selected an olive wooly bugger and dead drifted it with a strike indicator was new to me. So I thought I would give it a go yesterday on Paint Creek. I guess it goes without saying since I am writing to you that my results were phenomenal. I found that the trout were what I like to call in “chase” mode…more apt to chase than take a dead drift. Many were not though, as I caught numerous drifting it. Like most of my fishing trips I was only there a few hours because I had another engagement to get to. In those few hours I learned something valuable and I always thank those I learn from because most of what I’ve learned fly fishing has been self taught. I had 6 minutes before I had to load up and leave, so I figured I could surely outsmart one more.
As I stood over the stream and surveyed where I had started in the morning I saw the same fish that I had first fooled into my bugger. I don’t like fishing in a barrel, so I looked past him to find one more edge to cast to. Now, here’s where you’ve been hundreds of times, but in my experience not once. I was looking past that fish when I saw the vague flutter of a tailfin just upstream. I figured I had seen a ghost fish. For me as the day wears on and I stare at the stream I start to see things that aren’t there. So I stared deeply and saw the flutter again. The longer I focused, the more I could make out the greenish-grey outline of what would appear to be a large rainbow. I casted twenty times going in all directions and depths trying to entice him. Just as I was giving up hope and contemplating going through tying on a box of different flies in hopes of getting him to react, I gave it one more roll and placed it where I thought would end up drifting right into his head.
As I watched half-heartedly knowing I was getting ready to tie on another fly I saw the light color of the inside of his mouth and that was it. My line was still drifting so I on the off chance that the fishing gods were watching, I gave my line a short pull and rod a slight lift and away he went. The rest was a blur. Ten minutes, 24 inches and 5 pounds later I came to hold what would be more than twice the size of any trout I had ever landed. I couldn’t hold my iphone far enough away to get me and all of the fish in the frame.
I’ll never forget this day as long as I live. I won’t forget the stream, the fish, or even the wooly bugger. I hope this gives you some joy, and perhaps a chuckle, hearing a novice paint this picture.