Intense heat accompanied a wet-wading trip to a favorite smallmouth stream. A huge gravel bar near the bridge access hosted sunbathers and swimmers that I bypassed to wade downstream. My 5-weight propelled a yellow Bully Spider toward the rocky shoreline. The third cast brought a violent strike that led to a stubborn fight that included two tail-walking leaps. The bronze beauty was admired and released before I made another cast back into the same rock pile. The first line strip came to an abrupt stop and the line began moving sideways. A second hookset turned the heavyweight toward the rod before reversing course and slowly but steadily diving into the pool’s deepest water. I wondered aloud if I had hooked a large catfish. I was mindful that my 4X tippet was strained to its limit, but I had to continue pressuring the “behemoth” if I was ever to get a look at it. The tug of war continued for several minutes until it began swimming toward me. My first clue to its identity was the sight of a huge shadowy figure that seemed to pulsate as it both powered and glided along its chosen path. Finally, it came into full view. It was a turtle with a shell that was easily two feet in diameter!?! I made the immediate decision to donate the fly to the turtle by executing a “long-distance release.”
Great story and fishing trip. I have been collecting your books and have grown as a fly fisher. I live in the south not close to any trout and no one who fly fishes. Thanks for all your insights.
Your fishing experiences mirror our own. Even though we live near trout now, our clear preference is for the warm water species. Thank you for your kind comments. Best wishes for many beautiful vibrations.