Guest Blogger: Phil Rispin, fly fisher, photographer & more, find Phil’s photography here

Scott Arkansas 11-14-2010 rispin small fileNote from J. Stockard: You can start by reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this post series.

I once had a friend who coached basketball. He had been quite an athlete himself when he was younger and his reputation at the time was that he was still a darned good basketball player. Once, at the beginning of the basketball season, he had his team on the floor at one end of the court having a team meeting. He had a basketball in his hand and at the end of the meeting he dribbled a couple of times and then heaved the ball at the hoop at the other end of the court. The ball made a beautiful high arc going exactly into the middle of the basket without touching the hoop. He later told me that he didn’t shoot a basket again for the rest of the season for fear of messing up his reputation as the white version of Michael Jordan.

On the first day on the river I was working with my clients teaching them about reading water and where fish were likely to be found. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a rise in an eddy against the far bank across the stream. I had on one of my Green Drake Emergers and I made a short cast reaching over the current with the rod keeping as much line out of the water as possible, virtually dangling the hook in the eddy. The Cutthroat obliged by sipping the fly in and in front of the crowd I pulled out a 14” Cutthroat. I spent the rest of the weekend watching and helping others afraid to try again, sort of resting on my laurels, hoping that I looked a little like an expert.

Later that month Bob, my son-in-law, came up and spent a few days on the river and he and I had a great time dapping hooks and catching fish. The last fish I caught that week was memorable in that I had to climb a short cliff to get at the hole below. Imagine a 52 year old guy dressed in Cabela’s chest waders and felt soled wading boots going up a 10 foot vertical pitch with a fly rod in his teeth trying to make like a rock climber. The rock above the hole wasn’t the most comfortable to stand on in that it was sloping towards the water and had a lot of loose shale on it but I managed to dap a #8 stimulator in the hole right where we had seen a fish rise. I began to experiment making the fly flutter a little on the surface and sure enough the fish came up twice and I missed him both times. Then I allowed the fly to sink an inch or two below the water and the fish came up off the bottom one more time and grabbed the fly. There wasn’t the normal sort of run and fight that would have happened if I was down at water level. In a rather undignified manner I hauled the 12 – 13” trout out of the hole and up the small cliff face to get him off the hook and drop him back in.

It was déjà vu; there I was about 45 years after my initial schooling as a fisherman dangling a hook in a hole while standing over the water, just like I did when I was a kid under the supervision of my Dad. It was definitely back to basics and this time the basics worked.

Note from J. Stockard: You can purchase the image above right here. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of this post now.

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