What’s a “redemption fish”?
I personally consider a redemption fish one that I’ve hooked and lost. It can’t be a small fish…it has to be something decent that makes you want to go back after it.
They’re typically wild or holdover fish that have been in the river for years or a lifetime because they don’t get caught often. The type of fish that sticks in your mind long after you’ve left the river. A fish you think about before you go to sleep at night. A fish that won the battle of the day and haunts you.
Nobody lands all the nice fish they hook, if they say they do then they are lying. There’s just too much that can go wrong and everything has to go right.
As a first bit of wisdom, I tell the guys I mentor to always check knots and tippet. Those breaks are avoidable if you pay attention. I tell them to expect always to hook a big fish, so don’t lose it to a bad knot or a frayed piece of tippet that fails while you’re fighting it.
Ironically, that advice is usually cemented after they’ve lost a nice fish to a bad knot or broken tippet. Even if your gear is 100%, you need to deal with the inherent obstacles in the river. I can’t tell you how many nice fish I’ve lost fishing a two- or three-fly rig when I’ve hooked a beauty on one of my droppers and the anchor fly hooks a submerged stick…that’s a sickening feeling.
And, of course, the most common drop is when you hook a nice fish and he rolls or runs below you and pops the hook. In my experience there isn’t much you can do when this happens except come back another day for redemption.
On with my story.
So the last time out, I had a great day. I put plenty of nice fish in the net and considered the day a success. And, yet, when I came home I was thinking about the one that got away…my most-recent redemption fish. I hooked this fish in a shallow riffle, and he spit the hook in short order. I knew it was a nice fish by the weight and the splash it made when it was hooked.
I was disappointed at the time but put it in my memory bank where the hookup happened and vowed to be back for redemption. I even told a good friend exactly where it lived so he could try to put it in the net this past weekend, but, he didn’t have any luck.
Now, this week, my day to fish was Wednesday. I got to the Farmington River around 8 am and scoped it out. The first spot I wanted was taken, so, I thought, why not try for my redemption fish?
I drove down to the spot, suited up and headed down to the water. It was a typical November morning, a bit overcast, the air temp was in the mid 30s, and the water was an even 50.
The water was mostly clear and the cfs was around 330. I didn’t want to start off with fishing the lie of my redemption fish, so I fished some other water and put a bow and a small wild brown in the net to get the rust off.
I then got in position, made a good cast, and, sure enough, I was hooked up. This time I stepped below the fish, kept my rod tip up with good pressure and eventually put him in the net. Victory was mine. It wasn’t my best fish of the day, but, it was a redemption fish, so it was the sweetest fish of the day.
What’s important and I want you all to remember is that when fishing for bigger browns, they tend to stay in the same section of river. In fact, they tend to stay in the same exact lies. So, if you hook up and lose a nice brown, there is a good chance you can go back and get another shot at redemption.
For the mini-report, fishing was good again. It was the same as last week. Most fish were caught in in 6″ to 24″ of water in moderate riffles. Stones, Cased Caddis, Mops, Squirmy and Eggs.
Get out and spend some time on the river before the time of the year starts when you are clearing ice from your guides.
Until next time, tight lines!