The McKinney Diaries, Part II: First Fish

[Editor’s Note: Last week, we introduced a series by Orvis’s Mike Mckinney, who is learning to fly-fish after avoiding the sport for as long as an Orvis employee can, with a post called “Resistance is Futile. We’ll follow Mike’s successes (and failures) along the way.]

I had a great day fly-fishing in on Saturday at Big Branch and Roaring Branch–my first time fly fishing, after 25 years of working for Orvis. Thanks to Steve Hemkens for his patience and instruction. I lost a half dozen flies in the trees and only set the hook on about 10% of the strikes, but I did land about 10 small, native brook trout. I’m looking forward to doing it again.

Here are some things I learned about brookie fishing in the Green Mountains:

• Bring bug spray, a long-sleeve shirt, polarized sunglasses, a cap, and a neckerchief thingy.
• Check for trees before backcasting.
• Fish upstream.
• Don’t strip the end of the fly line through the tip top.
• Work with less line until you’re comfortable. Simply keep moving and use same length of line.
• If you make a less-than-ideal cast, fish it.
• Work the water closest to you first.
• If you don’t get a strike after a few casts, move on.
• Never leave fish to find fish.
• Repeat: Check for trees before back casting

McKinney Brookie

Mike McKinney’s first-ever fish on a fly: a Roaring Branch brook trout.

photo by Mike McKinney

I came up with a cool product idea, too:

Watching Steve retrieve many of my casts from the nearby trees (did I mention that you should check for trees before you backcast?), I couldn’t help but do a statistical analysis of how many more flies Steve was able to reach and save than I could have on my own. I am an Information Technology geek, after all. I would estimate that for every 3 inches in height, you have a 15% better chance of saving the fly.

Imagine the value of telescoping snips!

One thought on “The McKinney Diaries, Part II: First Fish”

  1. Mckinney’s first ever fish is quite the fish indeed. Mike’s new love of fishing has raised his golfer’s handicap though 🙂

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