You won't see any photos in this post. That's because I blew it - twice - with two of the nicest browns I've tied into in quite sometime.
For over a month, I've been seeing signs of big fish in a certain holding lie along the far bank of one of my favorite stretches of water. The don't show themselves very often. Normally, I'll hear a big splash and then turn my head to see evidence on the water of a large trout taking a bug off the surface. They hang out under some overhanging tree branches, and they're difficult to cast to because the water in front of them tends to run pretty swiftly on most days, making the drift of the fly difficult to control without sinking it.
Tonight, the water level was just perfect and the caddis hatch was in full force. When the sun set in the west, the trout started their characteristic evening feeding. After landing a few normal (10-12 inch) rainbows and chatting with a couple other anglers, I noticed some aggressive feeding starting to happen. I tied on the biggest caddis fly I had and started casting directly to the spot. After a few drifts, I saw a large, golden flash on the fly and set the hook. Too gently, I'm afraid. Just as the angler downstream was remarking that the fish looked considerably bigger than the others I'd landed, the fish thrashed once and spit the caddis back at me with disdain. I'm embarrassed to say that an expletive escaped from my lips, hopefully not loud enough for the kids upstream to hear.
By 8:00 p.m., I was having difficulty seeing the fly, and was growing frustrated that fish continued to rise somewhere in the vicinity of a fly I couldn't see. On the final drift, I tried to imagine where the fly was on the water and decided to set the hook at any rise that could have conceivably been directed at my fly. I'll be darned if I didn't briefly hook up with another one, who promptly threw the fly back in my face.
Fun respite from the world at large. I now have a keen sense of what other anglers mean when they refer to fish that are destined to be caught on another day. I'm just serving notice right now that I'm going back for one of those two. I'll post the picture when it happens.