“The first time I experienced such fishing was on the Henry’s Fork in Last Chance, ID. I was both enamored by and frustrated with these seemingly impossible-to-catch fish that would slowly move upstream in small pods. No matter what fly I chose, they never showed even a slight interest.”
We sat there in silence as we looked over the pond at my family’s farm in Central Pennsylvania. My best friend Rick Hutton and I had just decided that Montana was going to be our new home. I’m not exactly sure why our conversation faded to silence, but I know we both had a lot going through our minds. I had always dreamed about the West, but just didn’t think it was possible.
Top 3 Fly Fishing States and Streams in the United States. Put a pin on Pennsylvania, Montana, or Colorado for your next fly fishing destination.
When friends come visit me in the Catskills, they all want to fly fish. I bring them to a bridge over a small feeder stream and let them dangle down just about anything on a rod—dry, nymph, streamer. Then I watch as brook trout after brook trout slam the fly.
People panic. The fish panic. But everyone has the same exact face: THIS IS AMAZING.
Because fishing for brook trout is.
Yes, maybe they are not always the hardest fish to hook. (I once heard a guide tell me he attached a hook to a metal bottle cap on summer day and that worked too.) But they are the most ridiculous.
How ridiculous? For one, the fish-size to fly-taken size is just absurd.
Imagine lunging across a picnic table for a cheeseburger the size of your torso. Bounding across movie theatre aisles for a piece of popcorn the size of a beach ball. Tackling the pizza guy on your lawn and trying to eat the entire pizza in one bite.
They are hungry. Crazy. And gorgeous.
As a kids’ book writer and illustrator, I’m used to operating in bright colors. But in the dozens and dozens of brookies I’ve painted, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the cadmium red of my Winsor & Newton watercolor tube to go anywhere close to the actual brightness of their fins. Or the true iridescence of the blue underneath their red spots.
But I’ll keep trying. And fishing.
Steven Weinberg writes and illustrates kids’ books when he’s not flyfishing in the Catskills. More of his work at stevenweinbergstudio.com and @steven_draws. He also runs a Bed and Bar with his wife in West Kill, NY, the Spruceton Inn – sprucetoninn.com.
When Taylor designed the new Phenom rod they focused on perfecting three things: performance, hardware, and craftsmanship.