I had the opportunity to go out fishing at Soldier Creek Reservoir with some friends. We spent a night out there enjoying a weekend of fishing. Soldier Creek is home to some beautiful fish including rainbow trout and sockeye salmon. These fish can get to be up to two feet in length. Those are some massive fish coming out of a reservoir. The water was crystal clear, and you could see the fish swimming close by. It seemed like a very straightforward way to reel in some big fish. It was almost like being at the aquarium and seeing all the fish within arm’s length.
It was shaping up to be a perfect weekend. There were fish galore and we had nothing but time on our hands. We grabbed all our gear and headed out for a day on the water. We fished from the shore mostly but occasionally we ventured in with our waders. We would spend a few hours in one spot with varying success, then move on to another spot to try our luck there. By the end of the trip, between the three of us, we had caught one fish, and had two bites. How could that possibly be? We could see the fish in the water clear as day, yet they wouldn’t even attempt to go for what we threw at them.
I wondered why I could see all these fish, yet none of them were tempted to even touch my fly. The fish would literally jump out of the water. They weren’t being lazy, so why wouldn’t they touch my fly? I talked to a friend later and asked why this was the case. He told me something very interesting…
Fish go through different stages in their life. When we were up at the reservoir the particular school of fish we were trying to lure were going through a spawning stage. All these fish were chuck full of eggs. My friend told me that fish usually aren’t looking to eat when they are laying eggs. That explained why they wouldn’t go for my fly. But if they were laying eggs, then why were they jumping out of the water? The answer to that was intriguing. When fish are about to spawn, they jump out of the water and rub their bellies on the bottom of the body of water. They do this to help separate all the eggs before they are laid. Loosening the eggs makes it easier for the females to lay them.
While this trip was not the most successful in terms of catching fish, it was a great learning experience for me. I learned that timing is everything, and no matter what you throw at a fish, if they’re not in the mood, you won’t catch anything. Fly-fishing is not about the catch. A man named Zane Grey summed it up nicely. He said, “If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would’ve ended long ago. I couldn’t agree more. Fly-fishing is not always about the prize. It is the things you experience along the way that make all the difference.