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I met Lisa and Nick early on a late summer morning. Thirty minutes later we were all in waders at one of the best private fishing spots I have the luck to guide on. Western North Carolina just experienced powerful winds and lots of rain from our recent visitor, Hurricane Irma, so the river was higher than normal. I instructed a few roll casts and let them fish while I watched, all the while giving my “guidly” advice. They fished deep holes with Girdle Bugs and Bead Head Soft Hackle Nymphs. Every time they would cast out I could see the fish inspect their tackle. Nick was in the lead with 2 fish brought to the net and Lisa at 0. As we made our way upstream Nick pointed to the river and asked if that was a good hole to fish. I looked over and said, “Yeah, I’ve caught a fish in there once, but it’s not the best hole out here. Go ahead and cast to it though and see what happens.” With the recent rain, it turned out that hole was the liveliest hole we fished that day. Soon, Lisa was ahead by 2 fish with one whopper of a Rainbow she fought beautifully, and landed! I apologized to Nick about being so naïve as we shared high fives and protein bars. Personalities started coming out, smiles were shining and it was looking like it was going to be a fishy day. Upstream, we got into some more deep holes. We started to lose count with how many fish were brought to the net. At one point, Lisa got snagged in a tree… I told her to jerk it out of the tree. She did, and as soon as the flies hit the water a nice sized wild brown came out of nowhere and ate her nymph fly! It was game on. I was so worried it would break off, but Lisa remained calm as I ran around with the net saying, “Okay, now let it run.” and “Okay, now reel it in.” or “No wait, now let it run!” Her patience paid off when she finally brought it to the net. Nick and I raced for our cameras as Lisa stood there admiring her well-earned catch. A few quick pictures later, she released it back into the river from which it inhabits. We felt Lisa’s joy and the joy of knowing that Brown was back in the river where it belongs. We all agreed that no matter how many fish Nick caught for the remainder of the day, he wasn’t going to beat that fish; and if he did, we would celebrate our naivety and be happy with expressing even more joy about flyfishing.


Katie Cahn

Headwaters Fly Fishing Guide


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