Thursday, February 3, 2011

Green Drake Hatch

Note: I entered this essay in a contest hosted by It took first place and I won a custom 9 ft 5 wt rod. Sweet!!

I took up fly fishing last March as a way to fill the void between ice fishing seasons in Utah. I thought there was nothing better than sitting on a bucket on a frozen lake, carefully selecting the appropriate colored jig and tipping it with a glob of chartreuse Powerbait, cracking a Pabst Blue Ribbon, and waiting….jigging….and more waiting.

This was my idea of the perfect day of fishing… until I fished the Green Drake hatch on the middle Provo River.

Since throwing my first fly on a chilly March morning, I have spent nearly every weekend exploring the different stretches of the Provo and other local waters, learning to read water, the hatches, which fly to use, and working on my cast.

It was May and I had heard rumblings of the upcoming Green Drake hatch from my friends at the fly shop. I was intrigued by the madness which was to ensue in a few weeks and I wanted to be part of the experience.

The hatch was on! I load up my fly box with a variety of Green Drake flies, throw a couple Black Butte Porters in my pack, and am on the road by 7 a.m. With Robert Earl Keen cranked, I drink my coffee and choke down my Jalapeno bagel. My body is filled with nervous energy- would I get my favorite spot? How many people would be on the river? Do I have the right flies? Am I sure I know what I’m doing?

“The road goes on forever, and the party never ends,” Robert and I sing, while my foot gets a little heavier on the gas pedal and I sped up with anticipation.

I exit the freeway and turn onto the frontage road. The sky is getting brighter as the sun rises to welcome another day. I am pleased when I arrive and am the only car, but it is the drake hatch and I know it is only a matter of time before the masses come pouring out.

Pulling on my waders and boots, I grab my rod, coffee, and pack and head downstream to my favorite stretch. The island is about 30 feet long and 8 feet wide. Lots of water to fish- faster riffles up stream, slower water between the island and bank, and a nice eddy below the island. With my rod rigged up and coffee in hand, I sit and watch the water…looking for noses. This is my favorite time of day.

I finish my coffee and begin casting. I cast for a while hoping to start seeing some action. I tie on a dropper and catch a tiny brown on a nymph. Not seeing any fish, the novice, impatient angler in me starts to wonder if I really knew what I was doing and if this would be another day skunked. I crack a beer (it’s never too early for a beer on the river) trying not to get discouraged. I watch the water flow by, trying to convince myself it’s not about catching fish, but the experience of being on the water. I take another swig of beer. Patience has never been a virtue of mine.

As the morning air begins to warm, I notice the action of bugs in the air and on the water. Wings looking like sails on tiny ships float down the riffles, while others flutter newly formed wings while perched on willow branches. My heart beats faster…the hatch has begun.

I grab my rod and begin casting above the noses I see rising from the water. I’m giddy with excitement, but tell myself to stay calm. I throw my line, watch it drift…..and fish on!

“Yeehaw!” I say out loud and to any ears who might be listening. I strip my line, grab my net, and land a nice fat brown. I remove my fly, take a photo, and release him. I quickly dry my fly, shake, and cast. Within minutes, I have another fish and I am fired up! Fishing porn left and right and I LOVE it! I laugh out loud as I land number two. Four. Six. Eight. I haven’t seen this much skin and action for a long time, if ever. (wink wink)

After I release number nine, I cast a while longer, but the action has slowed- time for a celebratory beer. I take a seat on the island, grab a Black Butte, and feel the adrenaline still flowing through my body. The grin on my face, the fish porn on my camera, this has been the best day I’ve had on the river yet. I sit back, watch the water flow by, and revel in the experiences of the day.

I feel different than I had before arriving on the water this morning. “Maybe I really do know what I’m doing on the river,” I chuckled to myself. “Maybe I’m not such a novice after all.”

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