Take a Big Rod to Holland

I have a fish story... When I moved to Holland I mentally put my fly rods away, assuming that a flat land would have limited opportunity to do much. I was wrong... Turns out there's one lake in Holland with trout, and it's located south and west of Rotterdam, not 200 yds from the sea. In fact, the lake is brackish.

The lake is maybe 2 miles long, 1/2 mile wide, and has mega-rainbows in it not to be believed. It is very shallow, very clear, and wind-blow to the point of whitecaps most of the time. Add in the traditional Dutch liquid sunshine with the wind and you can imagine how easy/comfortable it is to fish. Also, it is artificials only, which really means only flyfishers are out there–not crowded; routinely maybe 20 spread over the whole lake on a busy day at any one time.

Anyhow, conventional wisdom is that you have to stand hip deep in neoprenes with hooded Gore-tex for hours, churning the water to a froth stripping back some wet fly. From the outset, I thought it looked like a lot of work for little return (most people consider a good day one fish). I figured there had to be a better way. I took to the old Roger/Mike tendancy to seek inspiration turning over rocks since the

fish come in so close to shore, obviously to feed. The fish cruise by in the shallows, and when the wind lets up you can see them: some are at least 3 feet long, and I've never seen nor caught anything less than about 17 inches. Sure enough, almost every rock has small olive shrimp/scuds of 1/2- to 3/4-inch long that scoot out when disturbed.

This interested me in that every guy I saw was throwing something guady and much bigger at 'em. So I made some very realistic and relatively small size-12 scuds, and sure enough was soon catching fish. Then, figuring that there had to be a better way of presenting a slightly crippled shrimp (plus,I thought the odds of the retrieved shrimp meeting up with the cruising fish were too low...), I started using a strike-detector and letting the wind/wave action (substantial wave action) move the shrimp on a 4 to 5 foot dropper. You guessed it: not only did I start catching a lot more fish on the dropper/shrimp, but they started hitting the indicator, which was quite frustrating.

Experimentation led me to increasingly bouyant dry flies to withstand the thrashing about they go through until now I make size 6 or 8 super-ugly hoppers out of swan quills (tons of feathers there from the flocks of wild swans) and yellow foam and rubber legs. So, the end result is some crazy American fishing out in the wind where no-one else will go, throwing this rather bizarre rig, for there, which catches fish like crazy, maybe 60% on the dry, and 40% on the dropper. I average maybe a fish every 30 minutes. Seeing's as they take maybe 10 minutes on average to get in, it keeps me fairly busy.

I just got Rog's 10-weight, antique Powell rod in the shipment; and so now I can't wait to go out with an appropriately sized outfit: the 7-8 weight I was using is too light. Small fish are 17 to 20 inches; medium 20 to 30, and big ones over 30 up to maybe 38... Unbelievable! I never knew being into your backing could be so much fun. I'm averaging maybe 6 to 8 fish landed over a given four hour period, which is about how long my back can take it. All in all, catching fish from 5 to 15+ lbs. is a new experience for me. My biggest so far is around 29 inches, but I routinely see fish much bigger... Sad news is that Bets has figured that this lake is only 30 minutes from the new house, and she has sooo many projects in mind to fill my time... Time will tell how much I get out there from now on.

Joe Piazza