Friday, November 5, 2010

Beginners Luck?

   Why is it called a wind knot, when the wind is not to blame? The wind may have made it difficult to cast, but ultimately it is operator error on the part of the one who casts that is the cause of this hated leader-eating overhand knot. The knot must be dealt with if one desires to have any hope of landing a heavy fish. And we pose the question, in a purely rhetorical sense, if ever there occurs a situation when one does not wish to land a heavy fish?

   There are many points throughout a day on the water where even the great ones among us just have to say “woops.”

   This is no blemish on the record of an otherwise outstanding angler. It is an opportunity for them to progress in their skills and abilities.

   I will concede the point that in those ignoble moments it is hard to learn the lesson. A fish lost, a fish put down by an errant cast, kicking up a massive trout holding in a braided riffle because you just didn’t think any fish would set up shop in such ugly water. We have all been there.

   What separates the men from the boys, so to speak, is what we do with the experience.

   Some will get angry. More will laugh it off in a good natured fashion, but fail to derive any wisdom from the event. And a small number will observe, process, and incorporate the experience into their backlog of lore. Yet even these must strive to not become slaves to their wisdom.

   There is a state of mind that enables those who are lucky or determined enough to achieve it to function above their level of ability. Sometimes it is misidentified as “beginners luck”. In Zen philosophy it is known as Shoshin.

   Shoshin is a concept meaning Beginners Mind. It refers to having an attitude lacking preconceived notions, even when studying a subject at an advanced level.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few. We should strive to be open to possibility. One is never at an advantage when one limits one’s choices out of hand.

   Several years ago I was on an overnight trip to the Fryingpan River. I got into Basalt late, and checked into the Green Drake motel. I was set to get up before dawn and be on the plunge pool at the base of the dam, also known as the “toilet bowl” because of the rotational vortex of water in the basin.

   Over night the powers that be had raised the flow from a manageable 150 CFS to a raging 600. There had been heavy rains above the reservoir, and the lake was already full. The ‘Pan is not exactly big, and 600 CFS is a fair bit of water in there.

When I saw the gushing jets of water emerging from the base of the dam, I knew my split shot was not up to the task. I retrieved from my car some ½ oz. rubbercore sinkers left over from a prior catfishing trip, and secured one to my line. Gathering up forty feet of loose flyline in my left hand, I allowed the huge sinker to dangle from the rodtip, and with a slow lob, sent the missile bombing into the maelstrom, dragging the flyline with it, down into the spray and foam.

  It was a circus. Over the next few hours, I could not make a drift without hooking a trout, some quite large. It really drove home to me the idea that there are no bad tactics, only bad results. If I had limited myself within the constraints of convention, it would have been a long drive without much reward.

   On a less grandiose note, the new waders do not leak yet and the new boots have very good traction, ankle support, and are easy to get on and off. What more could you ask?

   I fished the modest tailwater at Evergreen Reservoir this afternoon and got into a pile of (tiny) fish. Took my ten foot four weight Cortland Brook and built a L-O-N-G leader tapered down to 6X. Used a black no. 20 Poison Tung as the sinker for a no. 24 olive sparklewing RS-II. All fish ate Rim’s wonderful pattern. Lost the big one of course, a real donkey that would easy have gone fourteen inches. Se la vie.


These are representative of the fish I caught today. I can't be bothered 
to take a picture of every sodding trout I catch now, can I?
Fat little browns, fat little 'bows, and lots of 'em. 
Hurrah! -S.S.

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