Slim Shady

Photo by Pat Burke.

Introducing, Slim Shady. As Pat said, “We name every fish over the two foot mark, think about one. It’s an important decision.” Austen offered the name Slim Shady. It seemed like a good fit. 

Last week when Austen called and asked me to fish, it was a no brainer. Anytime there’s an opportunity to fish, it’s a no brainer. It’s what we do. I’m actually not sure what else we would do.

Austen said, “I’ll have plenty of anything we need, don’t worry about the rods, and flies.” This was a blessing, the fishing we did was a little outside of my usual element and arsenal of gear  Being a guide, it sort of felt weird to show up to fish without much gear. So I brought beer, a bag of Hartley’s, and a pound of sweet Lebanon bologna to fill the void. We chose Founders All Day IPA, but I also had to bring a beer that’s a little more fishy. Yeah, you guessed it. Busch Light, pounders.

We committed to an all day affair. A travel in the dark, fish during the light type of day. When you make plans to fish from sunup to sundown, it gives you the best chance to catch a bite window.

Just keep casting. And stripping. And sipping fishy beer. But don’t get caught just going through the motions. Treat every single cast like it could be the one that produces the big fish. Because it could. That’s the perpetual hope of a fly fisherman. Chances at big fish are limited to a very small number of opportunities. It can be heartbreaking not to capitalize on an opportunity at a big fish.

After 6 hours of fishing, I had an opportunity. There was something about that cast into that spot, when I was stripping I just felt like it was gonna happen. I couldn’t see the fly when the fish ate. When I strip set, I immediately felt that solid connection on the other side of the line. To me that’s one of the best parts of fly fishing, there’s nothing that can duplicate that initial feeling of life on the line after setting.

As I started to lift the fish out of the depths, all I could see was two large pectoral fins rising from the bottom. They looked like wings on an airplane. I turned to Austen and Pat. “It’s a good one”, was all I said. And that’s when all the craziness broke out.

They scrambled for the net, and fortunately it was not long until the fish was tucked away in it. It’s amazing how three grown men fumble around jazzing on the excitement of a big trout. I mean we were trying to find stuff, we were dropping stuff, and I’m fairly certain I spilled a beer. In fact, I’m still buzzing about the fish as I’m sitting here typing this.

The best part about fishing with our crew of guys, like Pat and Austen, is that they were as stoked as I was. And I would have been just as stoked to see one of those guys catch this fish. I had the lucky hand that day, but it wasn’t really about who caught the fish. It was just the fact that one of us was able to make it happen, and the others were there to see it. Austen and Pat, thanks for all the hospitality, local knowledge, and camera work.

After a few pictures, Slim Shady was released back into the water. Then I finished the rest of the Busch Light. It’s a fishy beer.

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