When the first fish sailed back over my head, I admit I was having doubts. We were high in the mountains on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The scenery was to die for, the stream was as bright and clear as a bottle of Perrier, but the brook trout I’d just hooked had failed to bend my 5-weight.
Ramón, my guide for the day, assured me as best he could that it was indeed a small one. The small ones we were after, apparently, were not quite that small. There were bigger small ones, maybe 9 to 12 inches. Big enough to cradle in your hand with a bit of flop on either side.
Within minutes I was in the zone, totally absorbed, entirely focused. The fishing was highly active and dynamic: crouching low, sneaking forward, holding the rod high with arm extended, drifting the fly through pockets of likely water, doing everything possible to avoid drag. It was non-stop fishing with no shortage of responses.
Many of the trout seen and caught were indeed bigger, though it really didn’t matter. The challenge was to dissect the water thoroughly, efficiently, without missing anything that might harbour a speckled surprise.
I had transcended to some higher plane of fishing. Like so many pilgrims on those mountain trails, I was on a path to enlightenment. My thoughts, my focus, everything had to be scaled down to size. I was Gulliver in a kingdom of miniatures, though the towering mountain backdrop was real enough. Submerged rocks the size of bricks might harbour a fish and mere hesitations in the flow and flat spots the size of dinner plates, even saucers, were likely places. All I had to do was pick the hot spots and devise ways to stroke, drift or stall the fly there for a mere second or two.