July 2016

Sedona, Arizona, sits about an hour and a half outside of Phoenix. The drive from the city to this popular vacation spot full of mystics and pink Jeeps took dad and me through arid, brown desert and awe-striking, massive red rocks, for which the area is known. Sedona is a great area for rock climbing, hiking, and adventuring, along with just enjoying the beauty of the landscape. The red rock forms enormous canyons with massive rock faces and towers up around the town. Running through these incredible rock formations is the Oak Creek, a spring creek that is home to wild brown trout, along with a population of wild and released rainbows. These fish are finicky–really finicky.

Dad and I fished the creek in July. The approach, location, and adventure of fishing there as a whole are rugged but well worth the journey. With the guidance of Brian Mowers and Victor Vaughn from Sedona Fly Fishing Adventures, we climbed down through the red boulders onto a more green and lush canyon floor. This involved lots of slipping and sliding, as well as close encounters with threatening cacti and prickly century plants. We slipped into a large slow-moving section of the river and threw hopper droppers against the bank.

My first few casts elicited no response. I saw a small rise up river, so I crept through the still water hoping to prevent conspicuous bow waves. I love the hunting aspect of fly fishing. Once in position, I casted up past an overhang and allowed my drift to go under it. There was one branch breaking the surface of the water. With my luck, my line got stuck around it, so I started to slide the flies back out for another shot. As soon as I lifted, a big, golden tail slapped the water and a fish fed on my dropper! It was sort of like the tail of the humpback whale in Pacific Life ads, but with much more splashing. He immediately buzzed up stream and sailed through the air. Six times he acrobatically soared out of the water, each time causing a nervous heart pound.

Victor was jumping up and down in the water and slapping me on the shoulder. Apparently it was a nice fish for the creek. Meanwhile, I was doing all that I could to keep the fish on, fretting that he was going to spit the fly with every jump. Finally, we were able to net the fish and relieve the pressure of the fight. We checked off Arizona.

This experience was such a testament to some of coolest aspects of fly fishing. First of all, I’ve always found that one of my favorite parts of the sport is its tendency to take anglers to beautiful destinations. Fishing for wild trout under towering red-rock faces in the middle of a desert seemed even majestic. The thought of targeting browns in such an environment never would have crossed my mind. Sedona, along with many other popular destinations across America, is a spot where fishing is often overlooked. Fly fishing can be done almost anywhere; many times those places are ovelooked.