by Scott Sadil
As is so often the case, Gierach might have said it best. This, from nearly thirty-five years ago, in his still delightful gem, Fly Fishing Small Streams:
“Maybe your stature as a fly fisherman isn’t determined by how big a trout you can catch, but by how small a trout you can catch without being disappointed, and, of course, without losing the faith that there’s a bigger one in there.”
To which I might add, “How small a trout not only doesn’t disappoint you, but actually excites you.”
Probably because I grew up in southern California and learned to fly fish for little brook trout in small, High Sierra streams, I can still get excited by an eight-inch trout. At that size, perhaps after you’ve watched the real dinkers swatting at your size twelve Humpy, unable to get their mouths around the bushy fly, the so-called big one in the pool will feel startlingly heavy as you lean into it with the bend of your small-stream three- or four-weight rod, the trout seemingly capable, although probably not, of snapping the lightest of tippets.
And if these are wild trout, native rainbows, say, scored into the contours of a remote wilderness landscape, with just enough water in it to maintain a healthy population of these obscure, jewel-like jumbles of vibrant colors, you’d do well, it seems to me, to appreciate their mere existence in a watershed near you, a local or at least regional example of life in all its finery and glory despite all we’ve done to make the world so difficult for both their kith and kin.