Ben Smith of Arizona Wanderings is a junior-high social studies and science teacher that lives just outside of Phoenix, AZ. When he is not fishing or hunting, Ben loves to spend time with his wife and two dogs. His summer was spent fishing, hiking and exploring adventure. As his first featured blog post on, Filson Life, Ben discusses his return to a his favorite pristine pool at the end of the road where he returns to get the fish that got him last time.
The heavy truck tires crunch the small stones as I make the turn onto the washboard road that will take me to the trailhead. Even though I left the house at an ungodly hour and have never been beaten to the parking lot, my body still tenses at thought of someone else being the first at the pullout. To be on the water before anyone else, guarantees the angler a full day of wild small stream trout eager to take a well presented fly.
With the tailgate down, I assemble my fly rod and thread the brightly colored line through the guides. Opening the fly box, each individually tied fly screams to be chosen as the first fly of the day, in order to prove their worth. Quick to drain the last of my coffee and with an apple and a bottle of water tucked into the cargo pockets of my shorts, I put one foot in front of the other and make my way down into the canyon.
The faint footpath winds about a half-mile into the canyon where it meets the creek. The stream appears just how I left it in my mind’s eye and the sound of running water is pleasant music to my ears. Knee-deep in the flowing creek, the water swirls around my feet like a mother swooning around a wandering son who has been gone from home for too long.
The first couple hundred yards of riffles and pools are full of brightly colored fish, each one as hungry as the next, but even as I carefully cast each fly, my mind wanders to what is ahead, the pool. This pool has haunted my dreams these last few weeks as I agonized over the bruiser who bested me. I can still remember the pulsing in the fly rod as his heavy body shook and dove to the depths of that pool in the moments before the line went lifeless.
As I round the corner, I can see it. A long pool that sits like glass, only disturbed at the very top where a small waterfall cascades downward into the deep water. I sit on the same rock and study the pool, taking my time to see if any of my finned friends are awake. Five minutes pass, as I recheck my knots and dress my fly with more floatant, I see the nose of a large fish break the surface tension.
“Right where I left you,” I think.
I wait another minute or two until he rises again to take an unseen bug in the film of the water, and carefully, on hands and knees, crawl into position. This is the moment I have been thinking about for the past few weeks. I bring myself into a crouching position and raise the fly rod. Back and forth, back and forth, back and then I let the fly drop ever so slightly a foot to the left of his last rise.
Patiently, I wait for the wild fish to accept my offering.