Mark and Dustin on the Caney Fork
Mark had planned a fly fishing birthday float for his son Dustin and they were waiting for the fishing to pick upon the Caney. This was Mark's first time using a fly rod and Dustin had fished a few times, but they were quick to listen to some advice and put me to work on the net shortly after we headed down the river.
Mark's First Fish on the Fly Rod
After a bit of instruction Mark was the first to hook up. He brought his first rainbow to the net and after a quick picture, to document the moment, we were picking up fish as we worked on technique. The guys worked on the finer points of cast, mending, hook set and when a fish would hit they working on strip, STrip, STRIP...
Dustin With One of Many
Mark started out strong early on, but Dustin came back with a vengeance. He focused on his casting and soon began busting fish on most casts. Then he waited for just the right moment to announce "I believe I am one ahead"... It was all in good fun.
Sharing the River with the Locals
On the Caney Fork in the summer anglers should expect to work around cows, canoes, kayaks, rubber rafts, boats, kids in floaties, and just about any other possible form of watercraft. I was just joking about the kids in floaties, but it's still early in the summer. The cows are the easiest to work with because they don't say much, generally hold their ground and let you pass or they retreat back to shallow water. But, if you look close at the cows standing further out into the river it is easy to see the fish continue feeding between and around the cows. I have never bothered to try to catch these fish because I wouldn't want to have an incident with a large animal, but it does show the fish are pretty adaptive to their surroundings.
Dustin Hooked Up on the Dry Fly
We put Dustin on the dry/dropper rig and fished to rising fish. He got the hang of the cast and began picking spots pretty well. He put the casts where he needed and was rewarded with his first brown of the day on a dry fly. Later we discussed what the guys had done throughout the day and what else they wanted to get from their trip. Dustin's reply was he wanted to learn how to fish the dropper and that it was easier than he thought. Mission accomplished. Now onto bigger and better things. Well, onto bigger and better things between the flotillas.
A Nicely Colored Brown
Practice Pays Off for Mark
All the work we do early in the float helps to prepare anglers for what we hope are bigger fish when the anglers get more comfortable. As the morning went along their casts became better and longer, which is key on days with heavy boat traffic.
As the casts got better and we found open spots in the conga line, the quality of fish began to increase. First little by little then Mark popped a nice brown. He played the fish by hand-lining it perfectly. We had the fish between the boat and the bank for the entire fight and Mark got the fish to the net quickly. The fish was healthy and after the documentation it was revived and release. With a swish of the tail the fish went back to the bottom of the river.
After watching his Dad catch a nice brown it was time for Justin to get into a more quality fish too. Both the dry/dropper and nymphs produced fish most of the day. As the day had worn on the traffic picked up. We found a place on the river to "box-out" the pleasure boaters. Dustin quickly went to work both spotting fish and fishing to them.
After an excellent cast, he stripped hard on the line hand and pulled the rod at the right angle, the fish did the rest. The rainbow was hooked and began to use all its tricks. It ran at the boat and Dustin stripped, it jumped and Dustin played the jump, the fish ran and Dustin gave it line. Dustin got the head up on the fish and scooted it into the net. The fight was over. Dustin came through on the final leg of the float. We revived the fish and he did the honors of the release.
It was a pleasure to spend the day on the river with a couple fun guys. Father and son trips can be some of the best floats we do throughout the year. The low water helps to make the action hot and it is always fun to help someone fly fish for the first time. At the end of the day I don't think any of us knew who was ahead in the count.