Written by: Vito Rubino
That trout is a story.
That trout is a story I want to share with you.
I will try to be brief but hey, that’s a fishing story right?!
Back in the days I was in a wonderful beat of a stunning stream in Trentino, a breathtaking Dolomitic Region in North-Eastern Italy.
I was guiding a fellow angler and we were having such a great time.
He was doing extremely well and after a quick warm up and a couple of trout caught we went to a spot I already knew.
I really knew it.
No intention to brag, but I can tell you the name of every single trout in that spot.
At his second cast in the suggested eddy my friend hooked MY Trout.
And when I write “MY” trout I do mean MY Trout.
My secret big lover, once per year.
When we netted it I couldn’t belive it and I bet the trout couldn’t neither.
It was her again! Like last year! Like two years ago!
My friend was in seventh heaven as was I. Indeed!
Also that trout is a long story, but that’s another one to tell in another article, so we moved upstream while still catching and enjoying.
We were studying the water and planning the best strategy to move upstream when we finally got to a stretch of a pictorial beauty, where a scenographic floating blanket island made of white water buttercup created a small side channel.
Gently talking and extremely pleased we stopped for a lovely chat at the tail of that tiny side channel.
Since so far I was guiding, my friend was so kind to ask me to have a go.
He didn’t even finish his invitation as I was ready with the rod in my hand fully set up.
I cast my fly several times upstream while chatting, almost in straight line with the current but just a bit on the side to “kiss” the marginal weed.
I rarely cast from the center of the stream straight upstream and generally I prefer the margins, but vegetation was a perfect retreat for trout on both sides and that position was the only one ensuring a perfect casting corridor among trees and plants in all directions.
We were immersed in a thirty inches deep of smoothly flowing crystal clear water.
The pace of the stream was fast, but not that much.
It was slow, but not that much.
In the music tempo it would be called “Leggero ma con Brio”.
I reckon we spent more than five minutes without any movement, so I felt comfortable in reducing drastically the pick-up point, positioning it very close to my standing position in search of more water to dig.
It’s a risk I usually take, even if it’s easy to tangle the line with the tip of the rod and it should be a “don’t”. You know, in this case the “Do” should be just moving one step backward or, if you prefer, just switching the front leg in a move that a boxer would define “the stance switch”.
Oh well it should, but…
But that’s again another story to study in depth in another article.
Me and my friend were still chatting (yes, we anglers talk a lot!) while my soft-hackle spider was flowing downstream in a dead drift, probably around ten or twelve inches deep.
I wasn’t really focused on the fishing action when I felt an almost unperceivable twitch on my line and this was just when my fly was a bit over the “appropriate” interception point.
As a conditioned reflex I set the hook, but directly over the pick up point the “hooking power” is quite weak.
My rod bent hard, really hard.
No runs, no vibrations. nothing.
After about three seconds (in mind it could have been 3 quarters of a second or 30) the line bounced back to the sky.
“That’s it – I thought – the fly probably got tangled in the weed”.
I was re-experiencing and analysing in my head what just happened when all of a sudden, at not even twenty inches from our boots, we saw something moving upstream.
It was big and… yes, it was a big trout.
It was a long glance before she disappeared in a background of gravel and weed.
Me and my friend looked at each other and I am pretty sure our faces were a close impression of “Dumb and Dumber”.
Oh my friends it was a nice one!
Probably I set the hook too late and surely I wasn’t focused enough but we have to be fair: those jaws had to be really hard to pierce. Indeed.
We kept on fishing and enjoying but that trout was still in my mind.
You bet it was.
I went back to the same spot the following week guiding another friend and she already knew I had an appointment.
Same position, same approach, three or four casts upstream.
“Sometimes you just have one chance and things are unlikely to happen again” I thought out loud.
But something inside myself was pushing me, moving my body like a marionette beneath a mysterious power.
Cast again, cast again, another time, yes, over there, right, now there, you’ll make it, hang in there.
And I hooked it.
It was her.
This time she ran. Oh yes… she really ran, trying to hide under the vegetation, running from the left to the right like a steelball in a vintage American pinball.
And then she ran to me.
I really hate it when it happens.
“She ran to me” sounds romantic but it’s a big trap lads. Watch out.
Years ago I lost a majestic mountain wild brown trout in this way.
I still remember the lecture she gave me and I really have to tell you about this story in another article.
Back to our fighting trout, I gained the best position I could, closing her way downstream.
I managed to swing her up raising my rod while she was on the run and that was it.
Careful and gentle pressure and she was in my net.
What a beauty!
One of the very few stream-bred rainbow in that region, where wild marble and brown trout are the vast majority.
It was a great fight and a wonderful memory to keep.
While my friend was taking some pictures of the catch in the water, I had to act as an experienced professional very used to that, like a bored James Bond in front of a clumsy evil henchman.
Reality is that inside I was so happy I could jump in the water.
Not only because it was a stunning fish, with a wonderful livery, with gorgeous fins.
There was more, and it was like a movie slogan…you lose, you hang in there, you win.
Life is tough, we know it.
It’s tough for everyone.
Sometimes the things we want to happen… well… they just don’t.
But there are many days in fishing when things happen.
Fishing make things happen.
There is a kind of merry justice in it, a sort of cosmic balance.
And then the trout went back to her life and we carried on our fishing.
Orvis London store Fishing Manager Vito was born in Italy and he has fished since he was 6 years old. He loves Fly Fishing in all its faces, from the light weight to the Big Game, from the small brook to the ocean. He is a real TroutBum and has a big passion for the wild mountain streams and their wild brown trout. He is a Fly Fishing Instuctor and Guide and one of the first Tenkara Instructors and Guides in Europe.