Many years ago, more than I care to admit, I drove to my favorite trout stream. My friends who fished it the preceding weekend reported that stellar hatches were coming off, trout were rising everywhere, and everyone was catching fish. I was dizzy with excitement.
I told my boss that I planned to take a day off midweek as vacation time. My plan was to get up at 3:00 AM, drive the three hours to the river, and fish all day. The night before, I packed my gear and tried to get some shuteye.
The way I figured it, I would burn a vacation day in order to have the river to myself. My pals said there were tons of anglers over the weekend, so I figured they’d all be at work and that I would be alone.
When I arrived, the river was chock-a-block with fishermen. It turned out my idea was not unique, and I couldn’t get fish any of my favorite spots. If I was closer to home I’d have split and come back another day, but I wasn’t and so I didn’t. Instead, I explored a new stretch that I’d never fished before, far away from everyone else.
Here, on the back side of an island in the middle of the river was a series of beautiful riffles and runs and pocket-water and pools. Brown trout, and big ones at that, were rising on a multiple hatch of mayflies and caddis. Because they were unpressured I hooked them easily.
Sometimes I find myself returning to familiar places to fish, mostly because I know them intimately. But this year I think that after I hit them a few times I’ll spend the rest of the season moving on to new water. For 2012 you can find me exploring. I’m sure that some times I’ll draw a blank, but on the other days? You’ll know I struck gold by the smile on my face.
Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com