A Night on the Pond in a Float Tube
And what a beautiful evening it was! Late afternoon produced some wind, which made the maiden voyage of the new ‘Outcast Fish Cat 4′ a wee bit frustrating, but then…well let’s back up a bit. Approaching the end of a small gated access road to a NH pond revealed more beaver work. I’m telling you, the beavers are taking over. Them and the turkeys. Anyway, the beavers have begun to dam the out flow of the pond and the result is a flooded road. It may not be long before its nearly impassable to all but intrepid ‘wheelers’. As I pulled up to park I see a big fat porcupine waddling along just as content as can be. Thankful that the dogs aren’t with me, I saw that my friend Marc was already there and on the water, as his kayak was not on the roof rack. While I was adding a little air to the Fish Cat, another vehicle showed up and an obviously amiable couple emerged. The fella begins to get some fly fishing gear out and mutters something like, “I’ve never done this before and not sure what to do”. It seems his grandfather had left him a rod and reel and an old box of flies and this fella wanted to give it a try. I offered to give him a hand. The 5 wt ‘Classic Trout’ was rigged up with a #14 bead headed hairs ear nymph so I tossed it from shore and wouldn’t you know had a fish on after the second cast. That got he and his wife all excited. I cut off the fly and suggested he tie it on and give it a whirl. The amiable gentleman did a fair job of throwing that line out there (I suspect he’d been practicing in the yard or some such) and hooked up with a nice 8-9″ brook trout. He could not have been happier and based on he and his wife’s reactions, I think that they thought I was some kind of fly fishing guru from ABC Sports or something. I admit to enjoying the moment, but more importantly, I got to witness the induction of a new member of our community. Rewarding to be sure.
Float tubing 101: think a bit about what the pond bed looks like where you put in and make sure that there are no roots that your new fins won’t slip under. Do a slow motion ‘plop’ into the seat if possible and find a way to position your rod in order to eliminate it from the ‘boarding’ dynamic. Smile and act in control while doing this because folks might believe that you are just rehearsing a comedy skit.
…Ok–back to the beginning. Kicking fins while seated means that you move backwards at the same time that you are thinking about moving forwards. Now this may seem real basic to float tube long-timers, but it requires some adjustment in thinking especially when you are facing the spot that you just kicked over and scattering any possible fish to the deepest darkest hole around in order to avoid this strange looking beast thrashing about. I’m not sure if it is acceptable technique, but using my net as a paddle and rudder seemed to help. I couldn’t find any other way to make turns. I need help. Despite the learning curve it was time to get to fishing and the tube and I were fortunate enough to catch a trout in short order. The first ‘Tube Trout’. Marc got a picture to immortalize the thing. A brook trout in the 9-10″ range. I did my best to make one of those professional grade images, by pointing the maw of the fish at the camera. It didn’t work out very well. I think in order to pull that off you really need a much larger maw and a professional camera croo. We had neither. But I, Marc and the fish ended the episode happy and all of us survived to continue on our way to contemplate whether or not it would have been any better to have had a big maw and a professional camera croo.
Trying to use the wind rather than fighting it required an opportunity to fine tune my fledgling float tube skills. Well, that was the plan anyway. The wind kept changing directions. Despite the adversity, the Fish Cat 4 and I managed a few trout. And then the magic hour happened. As the sun was sinking below the tree line and the air began to cool a bit–the wind stopped. That gorgeous pond became like dark glass with new possibilities, emerging bugs and rising trout. There were rise rings forming everywhere as hundreds of beautiful brook trout began to sip and at times to clear water to prevent the escape of a particularly tasty morsel or maybe for the fun of it; I don’t know. There were wee small light caddis and possibly light PED’s. The fish were really turning on and we were able to target specific fish. I found a light tan #18 CDC caddis was taken readily. At times just as it hit the water like a dandelion fluff and others at the ‘pop’ caused by a twist of line. Thanks, Dan. These are the evenings that mark time well. It’s particularly nice when you need to tighten your drag while playing a fish and at the same time experience the sensation of being pulled around in your float tube. Oh, by the way–I discovered the difficulty of maneuvering a float tube to accomodate the fish swimming toward you creating slack in the line. Keeps you on your toes. I lost a nice one that way. Just couldn’t keep the line tight.
A few great guys on a picture perfect evening when everything conspired together to make it work just right.