I've never been seen as a patient guy, and Paula would be the first to tell you that, especially when I'm in work mode, where my general attitude is clear the track and stay out of my way.
So it's kind of surprising – and even Paula will admit this – how patient I am when fishing small streams, the kind where backcasts are a luxury and lost flies are common, but the rewards in the form of beautiful, albeit small brook trout are well worth the frustration.
Paula and I actually switch roles when we head into the mountains around our home for some backcountry brook trout flows, most of which aren't as wide as my office. Whereas Paula can be painfully patient (especially when dealing with a wind knot), she at times will become unglued after several failed efforts to land a fly in a phone booth-size opening, one she sure holds a couple nice brookies.
I usually – key word, usually – offer her the first shot at any promising water. Sometimes she manages to fish it successfully, sometimes she blows up the mini-pool by flailing into an overhanging bush, and sometimes she just backs off and surrenders with a resigned, "you fish this one."
So I do. And my predatory instincts, built on fishing these kinds of waters since I was a kid, take over.
While even a minor computer issue sends me into a quick boil and an immediate phone call to my "tech person" (Paula), I size up any available opening in which to deliver a fly to a waiting brookie, figure out just how to get it there, and do it. And if I fail, I move on to the next pool, knowing that's part of the game and there's always another opportunity upstream.
My rapid-fire manner of fishing these trickles involve a series of awkward casts. Sidearm. Bow-and-arrow. All sorts of weird angles. Lost flies are greeted without fanfare or, usually, without profanity. Maybe that's a product of being able to wade out and retrieve them. Regardless, I'm at my best in these scenarios, where failure is expected.
Paula, meanwhile, struggles at times. Last week, fishing a canyon-like section of a mountain water, she was unable to see well enough to tie on a new fly.
"Let's go," she finally said. "I can't see down here."
"You gotta learn to be more patient," I said with a smile, reversing roles for at least this moment.
Paula rolled her eyes and we headed home.