I recently got out on the river with an out-of-towner I admire and respect a great deal. Bruce hails from Houston and is a class act. He was certainly more skilled than he let on in our preparatory conversations. Jan Nemec joined us and helped Tex get into a handful of fish even though it was Bruce’s first time on the water in Nevada.
The picture does not do this fish’s gut justice.
Bruce releases a healthy brown.
Take a deep breath and scram.
If you fish freestone streams with any regularity you’re bound to shake hands with a serious fish from time to time. These run-ins usually end all too quickly. The pressure locally continues to climb and fish don’t simply waltz into the trophy class but have to work hard and smart to get there. You can eventually guesstimate the pull of a two foot bruiser, but even with experience you rarely see the beast that breaks you off. You’re left to estimate and imagine what could have been.
Pause. Fishing can’t be a pissing contest. You can gut the soul of this sport in a flash. This is why in part a fraction of my catches get photographed, and a fraction of those end up here. That said…
On rare occasion you hook, sight and then lose an absolute monster; an animal of maturity and instinct. It’s akin to taking a brutal test you crammed for, getting a 98% and having the professor explain that your score is 2% below the failing mark. It only takes one bad knot, one nicked line, one half-second lapsing on the hook-set, one run of fury you can’t pace, and the list goes on. You can write the perfect novel and forget to dot an “i” and it all burns up.
I understand that it is a gift to be on the river at all. I understand there is almost always “another day” to try again. I also understand that when you lose the fish of your life, because I am still a man, it feels like you had an organ stolen in your sleep.
What kind of friend takes a picture of you from the bank the exact moment after watching the gnarliest brown of your life spit the hook?
At this moment, there is a fish in the waters near you that could recalibrate everything you know/love/believe about fishing. Feeling the pull of what could be that fish and losing it is hard. Seeing that fish…his silhouette and scale…moments before he outwits you? Devastating. Uncool but true.
Here’s to another day.