The Eat

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Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Fly fishing is all about the eat.

I remember a day floating the Snake River, about two decades ago. There was a freshly fallen tree jutting out at ninety degrees to the bank. Deep in the safe confines of its branches was a nice cutthroat, rising steadily. 

“It’s an impossible fish,” my guide told me but I can’t resist a rising fish.

It took a couple of tries but I made a beautiful curve cast that fed the fly in through the branches and the big cuttie ate. Of course, the guide was right, it was an impossible fish. At least it was impossible to land but I got him to eat and that’s all I cared about.

I still feel that way. I never cry over a fish I don’t land and I don’t count the ones I do. I just like to make them eat. For me that’s a win. I know it, the fish knows it. Everything else is secondary. As rewarding as the eat is, not all eats are equal. I like feeding tough fish and I like a savage eat.

At the point where those two things intersect, you will find my favorite freshwater fish. The Golden Dorado.

I was hooked before I ever got started with dorado. I’ll never forget the first dorado that ate my fly. It scared the pants off me. I’d never seen anything like it. Not even a barracuda eat compared. Pure, unchecked aggression. It was fabulous. Factor in that the dorado is a truly difficult fish to fool, and by far the most physically demanding I’ve fished for, and you have an eat of epic proportions. I never thought I’d best that first dorado eat, until last week.

I was fishing the Upper Parana river with Parana on the Fly Lodge. The river was in great shape and I expected a good week. I’ve fished dorado for a while now and I know what to expect. I know it’s tough. I know to trust the process and do the work, making every cast count. I know not to get caught with my pants down. The eat came earlier than I expected. In the first hour of fishing and I was ready for the hook set, but not for what came next.

The current was fast, and I dropped the fly in a six foot gap between woody structure. A prime dorado hold. The fish followed the fly into the fast water and ate hard. Really hard. I saw it’s big flank as it rolled back toward cover. The line came tight, I pressed the rod down toward the water and strip set. It sounded like a gun shot when the butt section of my nine weight exploded. The fish never faltered. He saw what he wanted and he took it, leaving me with not much more than cork in my hand. Now that’s an eat!

I don’t guess I’ll be getting over my dorado obsession any time soon.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “The Eat

  1. Please tell us you don’t use stainless hooks.
    One of my favorite quotes:

    “In every species of fish I’ve angled for, it is the ones that have got away that thrill me the most, the ones that keep fresh in my memory.  
    So I say it is good to lose fish.  
    If we didn’t, much of the thrill of angling would be gone.”

-Ray Bergman

  2. I remember my first take from a coho deep inside a log jam. I was able to wrestle her out but you can use the heavy gear for salmon. It was in Southeast Alaska in a log jammed creek. The perfect setting for an Alaskan Amber and an Al Capone to while away the brisk fall evening.

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