It doesn’t get much better than a trout on a dry fly. Jeff Lund | For the Capital City Weekly

It doesn’t get much better than a trout on a dry fly. Jeff Lund | For the Capital City Weekly

Dry fly fantasies

There were trout, but they were following steelhead waiting for eggs or feasting on newly emerged salmon fry.

I put on a No. 16 elk hair caddis because I was determined to catch a trout on a dry fly for the first time this year. I proceeded to catch zero fish.

I wasn’t surprised, but I was a little disappointed both in my decision to clearly ignore what I knew was the best method to catch a trout that day and by the defiance displayed by the trout. After all, I don’t just eat cake on my birthday. I’ll eat it any month of the year whether it’s my birthday or not. Why can’t trout take a similar approach? Now that I think about it, a salmon egg is probably more an equivalent to birthday cake than a bug with wings, but whatever.

I wanted to catch trout with a dry fly, because on that day it was the most fun method I could think of to catch a fish. It’s impossible to measure the most fun way to catch a fish overall because the variances in styles. Catching a steelhead swinging a fly is not at all like watching a cutthroat surface, mouth open, to take a dry fly. Both are nothing like being seven reels into retrieving a herring plug and having it crushed by a king salmon. Which is better? Does it matter?

Though we do understand the impossibility of an answer, we still ask the questions as if with new experiences, we will be enlightened enough to reach finality.

The best fish to catch is….

The best fighting fish pound for pound is…

The most fun is…

It’s okay to not have the answer, and in fishing, it’s okay to like, say, a brook trout on a dry fly as much or more than a king salmon on a trolling rod. In my case, I much prefer the brookie. I have to place the fly where it needs to be, see the fish rising and remain calm enough to not set the hook until it takes. I missed two salmon-sized brown trout on the White River in Arkansas because I jerked the foam hopper from the mouth of the trout that calmly rose to take it. Pulled it just before the mouth closed. Twice.

Anyway, once the brookie is on, the fight is just a trembling of my one-weight fly rod. There are no epic runs and when the fish is in, it’s only slightly larger than my hand. At least the ones I have caught in the Ketchikan area or the mountains of California.

A brook trout is accompanied with a feeling of happiness. It wasn’t an epic battle that ended in a knife to the gills to bleed it. You feel warm and satisfied after releasing a brookie, Golden or small cutthroat. You feel like a predator when a king is on ice. You do, in fact, feel like the descendent from the type of hunter-gatherer who survived so that you could one day exist.

You can’t eat the memory of the prettiest 14-inch cutthroat you’ve ever seen, but it’s not always about filling the freezer. Sometimes it is, and shortly it will be about that. My freezer is almost completely salmon and halibut free. By the way, I don’t see how catching a halibut on a fly rod would be a bad time.

Anyway, I’ll always have a spot for dry flies and little trout because that’s what fishing is about.


• Jeff Lund teaches and writes in Ketchikan.


More in Neighbors

Tanya Renee Ahtowena Rorem at age 17. (Photo provided by Laura Rorem)
Living and Growing: ‘My name is Ahtowena’

My precocious two-year old broke loose from my grip and took off… Continue reading

The Pinkas Synagogue, the second-oldest building in Prague. (World Monuments Fund photo)
Living and Growing: Connecting to family ancestors through names of strangers on a wall in Prague

“Prague never lets you go…this dear little mother has sharp claws.” —… Continue reading

Individual eggplant parmesan rounds ready to serve. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Individual eggplant parmesan rounds

These flavorful eggplant parmesans are a great side dish, especially served with… Continue reading

An aspiring knight relies on duct tape for his medieval battle gear during the Master’s Faire on July 16, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Gimme A Smile: Duct tape — an Alaskan’s best friend

Duct tape is an Alaskan tradition. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix… Continue reading

Fred LaPlante is the pastor at the Juneau Church of the Nazarene. (Photo courtesy of Fred LaPlante)
Living and Growing: Be a blessing

Years ago, I learned a great acronym, B.L.E.S.S. “B” stands for “Begin… Continue reading

Salad ingredients ready to assemble. (Photo by Patty Schied)
Cooking for Pleasure: Mexican corn and bean salad

Several years ago, I ate at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Los… Continue reading

A new online dictionary features Lingít, X̱aad Kíl, Shm’algyack and English. (Mircea Brown / Courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute)
Neighbors: Sealaska Heritage Institute debuts multilingual online Alaska Native dictionary with audio

Platform includes resources for Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages.

Brent Merten is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Juneau, a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. (Photo courtesy of Brent Merten)
Living and Growing: Your room is waiting

Thursday, May 9, is a very special day. Although most calendars don’t… Continue reading

The interior of the Pipeline Skate Park on Dec. 7, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Join interactive design meeting for Jackie Renninger Park on May 21 CBJ… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Living and Growing: Twisting Scripture to suit themselves

Ever wonder why so many different people say so many different things… Continue reading

The Ward Lake Recreation Area in the Tongass National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Neighbors: Public input sought as Tongass begins revising 25-year-old forest plan

Initial phase focuses on listening, informing, and gathering feedback.

Sister Sadria Akina, Elder Tanner Christensen and Elder Bronson Forsberg, all missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, collect litter on April 22, 2023, in the Lemon Creek area. It was their first time partaking in Juneau’s communitywide cleanup. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neighbors briefs

Annual Litter Free citywide cleanup on Saturday Saturday is set for Litter… Continue reading