Getting Skunked


We've all been there.  It's one of the reasons we love this sport.  The challenge of an elusive brown that spooks at the slightest shadow on the water, a footstep that lands too hard, or a dragging caddis larva.  Those high pressured rivers too!  Why do we keep coming back to them time and time again?  The challenge?  The accomplishment?  The feeling of bringing that 18 inch rainbow to the net on a size 22 zebra midge?  Those are the feelings that bring us back. The Truckee River provides exactly that experience for me.  It's highly pressured and the fish are smart, but they're catchable.  Every time I leave the Truckee, I'm a better fisherman and most of the time I've learned something new.  If I'm not learning from the trout, I'm learning from a buddy of mine who I fish with on the Truckee from time to time (Thanks Shane) who know the river backwards and forwards.

A few weeks ago Octave Zangs and I made a quick stop on the Truckee while traveling between the Pit River to Los Padres National Forest. We stepped foot in the river with high hopes of hooking some sizable fish. Having come from the Pit where we were catching fish hand over fist, our expectations for the Truckee were high.  The first evening we fished some of the most productive waters I know, with nothing as much as a bite.  To make matters worse, the river was being hammered by other fishermen.  Every time we turned a corner there was another guy in khaki waders drifting hooks and bobbers over weary fish.  Octave switched to a streamer in one hole and felt his line come tight. Within a few seconds though, the fish had shaken the hook.  After a good night sleep, we tried our luck again for a few hours in the morning.  Again, nothing.  You know the feeling.  You're making good drifts in water that looks fishy, but nothing's working.  In all, we both hooked fish but each lost to the feisty trout.  You don't get many chances on the Truckee, so you've got to make them count when you get them. 

As I've gotten older, I've learned to shake the skunk off my back with more grace.  I've always admired those older fishermen who go to the river for the experience.  Just getting on the water is enough for them.  I'm not there yet, but I feel a lot better about going to the river with high hopes of landing fish and walking away without my hand smelling like trout.  I guess I'm getting more content with the experience of learning something new while doing something I love.  Really taking in the natural resources doesn't hurt either.  I'm lucky to live where I do and fish the watersheds of Northern California.  Before you know it, the experience will be all that matters to me.   For now though, I'm ready to get into some fish! Getting skunked sucks! 

Words by: Tyler Graff
Pictures by: Octave Zangs (Last two photos by Tyler Graff)