"Sometimes, you just need to go downstairs and waggle a rod..." - Scott Hanson

"Write what you know. If you don't know, make it up..." - Scott Hanson

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Art of the L.D.R.

After doing a little math in my admittedly pea-sized brain, I figure I have probably caught around 3 or 4 billion fish in my lifetime. Or it might be more like several thousand - my pea-sized brain is not very good with numbers...Whatever the case, out of all those fish that I have caught, it's the ones that I LDR'd that stick in my brain the most.
Good ol' Webster. He has a definition for everything.

If you aren't as rabid of a fisherman as I am, you may not be familiar with the term "LDR", but you have probably performed a few yourself at some point. "LDR" stands for Long Distance Release. I believe Webster defines it as "the heartbreaking moment when a fish becomes unattached from your fly at any distance from you that is greater than the length of your arm.". LDRs can happen with any size fish, but it's the LDRs that occur when you have a monster on that can become etched in your memory. I have the uncanny ability of remembering big fish that I LDR'd more than 15 years ago, but I am not sure what I had for breakfast yesterday...LDRs can stay with you for a long time.

Take, for instance, the day I spent on one of our local rivers about 16 years ago. It was May, and the Mother's Day Caddis hatch was going gangbusters. It was better than I had ever seen before, or since. I was stationed on the right side of the stream, towards the bottom of a rather long riffly pool, and there were fish chasing caddis flies all over the place. I don't know how many trout I caught in that one pool that day, but I do know that I landed a 17" brown that was quickly followed by a 19" brown, that was quickly followed by a 20" brown, all while standing in pretty much the same spot in the river. But what haunts me is the much larger fish I fought for several minutes that made a bee-line for the far bank, and then calmly glided back and forth in a 20 foot swath until my Elk Hair Caddis became disconnected with his giant maw. I about cried...

Oh, and then there was that time when I was out in the Black Hills, fishing a stretch of water that I assumed was too skinny for anything to live in. I was really just making my way up to check out the next pool, but I had my size 18 beadhead nymph in the water, and sure enough, a giant rainbow engulfed it, and went shooting across the river in a series of acrobatic flips that would make Mary Lou Retton blush. The entire fight lasted mush less time than it took you to read that last sentence, yet it is a scene I will probably never forget.

Speaking of the Black Hills, I was above one of the big reservoirs out there, fishing in a section of a creek that looked to be devoid of all life. When that is the case, I often find myself day dreaming about other places I should go, which is what I was doing when yet another big fish, this time I assume it was a brown, snarfed up my Copper John and headed for the North Dakota border. That fight lasted a smidge longer than the one with the rainbow, but still probably only six seconds or so. Six seconds that will haunt me forever...
Me, a split second after performing a lovely LDR on a hawg...

I've only been musky fishing once in my life. I went with my cousin, who is a bona fide trout bum, like me, so neither of us really knew what we were doing. After several hours of flailing away spread over two days, I not only wasn't concentrating on the fishing that I was doing, I didn't even remember exactly what state we were in. And then it happened: I lobbed my giant fly over towards the weeds for what seemed like the 4 millionth time, and sure enough, a musky came out of nowhere and exploded on it. The river went from calm and peaceful to a warzone at the drop of a hat, I did everything wrong, my heart felt like it might burst, and I never even felt the fish on my line. I guess technically that wasn't a real LDR, since I never had him hooked, but I remember it like it was.

A lot of fishermen probably hate performing LDRs, and I used to be like that. But now I try not to let them bother me so much. After all, my LDRs have given me all these fun, and at the same time unpleasant, memories, and really, that's what fishing is all about, any way, am I right? Besides, I perform way more LDRs than I catch big fish, so I better learn to make the best of it. If you ever want to see an LDR done the right way, just follow me for a an hour or so some day. I'm sure you will get your fill.


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