Osman e-mailed me about catching his first fish on a fly. He had purchased a basic set up but his busy life doesn't allow him to get out as often as he likes. He lives near Burke Lake. I decided to use this location for his casting lesson and fishing adventure as it will be his home water. I have not been to the lake since 1991 when I ran cross country in high school. The lake is about 15 minuets from my current house.
I met Osman in the parking lot. It was early and the air was already saturated. He brought his Orvis outfit and we walked down to the lake. I forgot how big this lake is. Something I should take more advantage of. We walked out to the fishing pier and set up camp in the shallows. The water was about a foot deep and I could see a bunch of sunfish milling around. We tried both sides of the dock with a damsel nymph. The fish would nip at the fly but not take the hook. I should have brought brassies. We tried a popper and they lazily nibbled. I cut off the tail of a damsel and Osman had several tugs but no fish hooked. We worked on the timing involved in hook setting. These fish were not cooperating.
He worked the fly and we talked tactics and techniques. I explained how I use straight mono rather than store bought leaders and don't really use a formula. Fishing like this requires nothing more than a piece of 8' 8lb mono. Osman is a member of TPFR too. We discussed fishing the tidal sections of the Potomac and how stream fishing is different than lake fishing.
He did a great job of picking up the fly and with a smooth back cast put the fly back down. I had a boxes and boxes of flies and the go-to patterns were not producing: mr. bob lucky day popper, damsel nymph, damsel adult, modified damsel nymph. At some point I pulled out my box of split shot. I think this was when Osman asked about sinking lines and heads. I told him that a sinking line is not always needed and a bb sized split shot can get your fly down. At this point I noticed a size 16 flash back pheasant tail in the split shot box. I tied it on as a dropper under the green popper and he worked the fly in the shallows.
Now Osman may credit me but he caught the fish. The nymph was in the water and I was holding his rod as he cast. We lifted the rod and as he leg go of the cork I could feel a fish on the end. I quickly gave the rod back which he released a split second ago. Osman now had his first fish on his fly rod. He brought the little sunfish in and we got a picture on his mobile. He wanted proof to his wife of his catch.
Our time was up and I left Osman with the dry-dropper rig for him to play around with. We plan to fish the near future on the Potomac and hopefully get into some migratory fish. I have no doubt that he will visit Burke Lake a lot this summer and improve his skills. The amount of confidence he gained in one hour will last him a lifetime.
PS, he outfished the bait guys at the end of the pier.