Never give in…

I’ve always admired Sir Winston Churchill. He was a great statesman and leader, a distinguished military officer, an accomplished writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he loved a good cigar (the “churchill” cigar, designated as being 7″ in length and having a ring size of an inch of 47-50, 64th’s of an inch). Incidentally, Chruchill was credited for inventing the practice of dunking a cigar in port wine or brandy…

He loved a good cigar...

He loved a good cigar…

Sir Winston Churchill, cigar in his mouth, defiantly forming his fingers in the ‘V’ for victory sign, is a classic wartime image. Few photographs of that era show Churchill without a cigar. He was known to smoke 6 to 10 a day…

And Churchill was also famous for a speech he gave to his own boarding school, Harrow School, on October 29, 1941….

 “But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

This speech was in reference to the war effort, which had finally turned for England. In particular, The Battle of Britain had repulsed the Germans from gaining air superiority and then proceeding with operation Sea Lion, an amphibious and airborne invasion of England. This post gives the effort England put in, short shrift. The Nazis put considerable effort into attacking seaports, then airfields, and finally civilian targets to bring England to its knees. Instead, the English held fast with the classic “stiff upper lip”. It was to be, as Churchill would say, England’s “finest hour”…

So why do I bring up such history?

A few weekends ago I arrived at a favorite stretch of the West Branch of the Delaware River. After rigging up, I watched the river and noticed caddis coming off in very inspiring numbers, to say the least. It was early morning – about 8:30 or so. I waded into the river, my nymphing rig set with a march brown nymph on point, a caddis larva nymph riding shotgun, and a sparkle caddis pupa as tail gunner. I fished this rig and experimented with weight and changed flies as the morning wore on. At one point I looked down at my upstream leg and noticed 30 – 40 charcoal caddis swarming me. Regardless of the caddis pattern I fished, the water seemed dead. As time marched on I will admit I considered giving up the ghost. I was getting discouraged, especially with all of the bug activity but no one seemingly home.

By 11 am, the caddis were just a trickle of a hatch, but a few sulphurs started coming off. I decided to change my plan around 12:30 and fish a flashy bubble-back pheasant tail nymph. For one, this was putting something different in the water. And it also was hopefully leading the hatch that I figured was on the way.

My hunch turned the tide. It wasn’t long after changing things up again that I hooked a small rainbow, then a nice brown, and then, this beautiful Delaware River rainbow…

A beautiful West Branch rainbow...

A beautiful West Branch rainbow…

My flashy tail gun fly was a size 18. It always amazes me that trout can see such a tiny thing fly by in fast water.

I continued fishing and lost two more nice fish, and then had this very odd take in some slower water. My indicator slowly slid under the water, much like a snag. I lifted my rod, felt solid resistance but the snag started moving, then through in some head-shakes, and then moved up-river with the heavy authority of a big carp. Slow and steady, this fish ran up the river, then woke up and put on some heavy and fast runs, more typical of a big brown. I had this fish on a good 5 minutes, and could see its butter brown flash as I worked it out of the current into shallower water. Still, it would make a few more runs, and then, twisting and turning, it was off…

My heart sank – all anglers know the feeling. In a way, though, I smiled.  A good strong wild brown had beaten me. I had failed to  retie – the fly had broken off at the knot. But I had persevered through the fish-less morning hours. I had endured the doubt that darkens an angler’s mind and heart when seconds turn to minutes and hours and casting begins to feel more like flogging the water.

I had not given up…


3 Responses to “Never give in…”

  1. Bob Stanton Says:

    We all know that feeling of frustration and doubt that, well, in my case, causes me to fish like an idiot. Your dedication to the method is laudable, because I probably would have given up on the nymphing and put on a streamer. Is that a new nymph rod, by the way?

    • stflyfisher Says:

      Thanks for the compliment, Bob. You have a good eye – that is a new rod – the Competition Nymph Fly Rod from Cortland. It’s a 10 foot 6″ 4 weight and I really like it. helps you reach out and touch someone!

  2. I was wondering if I could get a link back to my website. Just started a new blog. Check it Out

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