It all began like any other outing on Belt Creek. By the time I reached my favorite fishing run, it was already almost 7 p.m., about 30 minutes till sundown. I figured I would get some action as soon as I got on the water as this was usually the case around this time of night. To my surprise, I was able to hook into a 15 inch rainbow on my first cast on nice sized attractor dry fly. His holding spot was just in front of a rock which has recently been exposed from the draining flows. It's interesting to see the flows steadily change and decrease in gauge day to day, week to week. This fishing spot changes each time I fish it, revealing little nuances that make this run special and unique to me. Where the fish held in the current weeks ago, has been polished away and become extinct. The new holding spots are now further up the run where the current pushes through abrasively over the rocky stream bed. Soon, like the predecessors, these features will also be gone as the flow gradually depletes in discharge. So while these features still remain, I cast diligently to them, knowing eventually a feeding fish will take my fly as it drifts by him.
After fishing until sundown catching a few smaller fish, dusk was now upon me. The blind casting of a dry I know all too well by now was in full effect. With just barely enough light to see, I focus on floating my fly, in this case a size 12 Rubber-Legged Orange Stimulator naturally on the surface, ensuring a drag free drift to increase the odds a fish will mistake it for a tasty morsel. After casting upstream and drifting downstream repeatedly, reaching out my rod for the longest drift possible, the moment finally came, I heard the surface slightly break and felt a good tug on the end of my line. My rod immediately raised up to set the hook, as if my arms were trained without being ordered. This fish was heavy, but didn't put a lot of pressure on me. I slowly reeled in, with a few head shakes in between revolutions on my reel, the fish swam at me without resisting, like it wanted to be caught. Easily one of the quicker and effortless battles I've endured, I was able to successfully land and net the fish in under a minute. With the darkness surrounding me, I still was unable to see the fish in the dark, murky water. As soon as I raised the net from the waters surface, I felt the weight of this brute and could barely see the silhouette of his size, but couldn't make out the species. I walked the net over to the bank laid it on the rocks and took out the camera. As soon I took a picture, the flash lit up the bank like day, and it was at this moment... I about shit my pants!
I could not believe the size of this fish! It hadn't put up a huge fight, though it felt heavy, I was amazed to see the length and the beauty of this beast. It was surely the biggest I have ever pulled from this small creek! The bold bronze colors, the brilliant speckled red and black spots along the flank, the long toothy jaw of this brown trout is the type of fish I dream about catching when I go to sleep at night. And here he was, right in front of me flopping around, smooth to the touch.... and real! I had finally been given a gift from this creek for all the hours I have spent pursuing a big one... the perseverance had finally paid off. I measured the fish with my net's built in measuring system, and the beast lengthened out at 19 inches. By no means a record fish, but for me, a fish to remember, and a fish worthy of being dubbed an achievement and redemption. Everything in the world stopped at that precise moment, the chaos of the world around me ceased to exist. It was only me and that fish, the creek, the darkness and my surroundings, nothing else. I will be forever grateful to this fish, for he gave me something I will always cherish, something I cannot describe in words, but only in the emotions I was feeling at that exact moment. He will live on in my Soul forever!
For the first time in a long time, I left that creek feeling triumphant. I reflected upon the night walking the trail back in darkness. Everything for once had gone the way any seasoned angler would salivate for. The perfect evening September weather, not a breath of breeze in the air, the beauty of a nice fish after the first cast, no tangles, no snags, no lost flies and a fish of any boys dreams, gripped and released to live another day. And to top it off, a streaking shooting star in the vast blackened sky caught my eye as I appeared out of the brush and to my car. The perfect way to end a perfect night, and a night to remember for a lifetime to come. I made a wish upon that star that night, and when that wish comes true, I am sure it will make for another great adventurous fishing story, so until then... may YOUR best wishes come true!