No, just kidding. Well, kind of.
I landed the largest fish I've ever laid into the other day. I was working a big piece of water (at least for the area I'm from) that had been stocked with rainbows a month before. This water also has a nice population of wild browns that use its many tribs as spawning ground. The geology of this stream lends itself to big holes and even bigger boulders. I stalked up to one and starting casting above it, letting my nymph tandem of a prince and wet fly get low into the feeding channel before it swept past the boulder. With my third cast I thought I snagged a rock as I set the hook, but after a second, my line began to shake back and forth and I knew I was into something bigger than normal.
He was sluggish at first as I lifted him off the bottom of the deep run, but he soon started to fight. He kept trying to get himself back under the rock, but I played him out. I knew he would try to take off downstream, so I waded with him and worked him over to the other bank and eventually landed him directly across from where I was originally casting. I quickly took a few pics and released him to see another day.
Here's what I mean when I said "luck" earlier. I didn't even know he was there. Knowing me and my giddiness and general lack of couth, if I'd had known he was there, I would have most likely spooked him. I read the water ahead of me and planned an approach that kept me hidden. The boulder that I was casting over shielded me from the brute, which enable me to lay into him and have a nice quick conversation about the beauty of the world and spontaneous nature of life that lead us to meeting and saying goodbye.
"I ain't good with numbers I just count on knowing when I'm high enough..." - Mike Cooley, Drive-By Truckers. This rainbow was easily pushing 22+ inches. He was fat, too, which leads me to believe that he was a pretty recent stocker. He did have some really nice dark spots considering he was a stocked fish.
As I worked my way back upstream, I decided to do a quick run up a trib to see if I could find any wild browns. I switched from tandem nymph rig to a dry/dropper (yellow stimulator and a green caddis) and started working some nice runs. I landed quite a few wild browns; most would slap at my dry and then take my dropper. Sometimes it's best to just follow your curiosity and see where the water leads you.
I stumbled upon the name "Raftman's Path" walking the river trail that traverses through the little town I live in. It was named during the days when lumber was a huge commodity in this area. The Susquehanna River was an industrial thoroughfare - bearing down loads of lumber from the northern reaches of Pennsylvania towards the Chesapeake. Marietta was a stopping point, a place for the lumber either to go to the mills lining its banks or shoot further downstream through pig iron smoke. Raftmen would guide the lumber down to the mouth of the Susquehanna into the Chesapeake - an estuary of salt, water, lumber, ore, eel and shad. When their job was done, they would walk the raftman's path back through the Susquehanna Riverlands of Lancaster County towards their homes. The path is now wooded and meanders through some of the only "wild" places left in the county.