Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Buried to the bend: Any angler who fishes long enough will eventually get hooked

After working over a favorite stretch of water on Dauphin County's Manada Creek last week, I decided to fish my way back towards the bridge for a few last casts before heading home for dinner.

I had done pretty well, landing four rainbows and missing several others, while using a double down tandem rig of an egg pattern point fly and a caddis larvae dropper.

Eager to hit the five-fish creel limit mark for the day (though practicing catch-and-release), I wanted to try for one more trout before taking down my fly rod and hiking to the truck.  

Easing my way out the cement walk plank beneath the bridge, I took out some line and roll casted upstream. Mending the fly line as best I could within the tight quarters, I watched my presentation dead-drift through the heart of the hole.

Within seconds, my foam strike indicator dipped beneath the water's surface and I promptly set the hook. The fish ran and jumped clear out of the water, and I could clearly see he took the small size-18 caddis.

In no hurry to end a gorgeous evening on the water, I opted to play the fish out a bit before bringing him in. Unfortunately in doing so, he rolled during the fight and hooked my top fly just behind his dorsal fin, and now I had a conundrum.

Seeing he had tangled himself up, I wanted to get him off the line as quickly as possible and safely back into the water. Trying not to make matters worse by adding net material to the mix, I tried to bare-hand him, which at first worked out just fine.

As I put back pressure on the rod to haul him in close with my right hand, I crouched down and easily released the caddis fly from his mouth with my left. But when I grabbed him to unhook the larger size-14 egg pattern, the fish flopped from my hand, fell to the water, and firmly buried the trailing dropper fly deep into my exposed thumb.

It happened with so much force that my 5x tippet connecting the two flies tore off. At that very moment, I felt what the fish must've been going through, quickly released the egg fly from his back, and watched him swim free.

If I thought the hook felt bad going in, it was worse coming out. After dinner, my father-in-law did home surgery on me with a pair of needle-nosed pliers, a few paper towels and a bottle of peroxide. My numbing agents were a bucket of ice and a glass of straight liquid spirits. It wasn't exactly a pleasant experience.

I suppose if one fishes long enough, he's destined to get hooked at some point. But next time, I'll try to land the fish more quickly and without tangles – for his sake and my own.

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