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The Hunter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   It has been three weeks since I've thrown a fly, threeweeks since I'd returned my vest and waders to the closet. It has been threeweeks, and I find myself daydreaming through historyclass.

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Mydad barged into my room, flicked the lights on, walked to my bed and poked me. Ijumped up and threw on my clothes, and before I knew it we were in the car,tangled with our gear.

An hour and a half later, we were on top of thedam. To our right was the valley that held the swift river, and on our left wasthe reservoir lined with trees as far as I could see before the mist engulfed themountain. My dad pulled into the parking lot, and we suited up, donning ourvests, hats, bug spray and waders.

I trotted along the trail, past thesurging water pipe and down to the large pool. The dam outflow had let out a goodfoot of water, making the current fast and stirring up the water so the troutwould have to be quick when selecting a small fly on the surface.

Istepped in silently. My first casts were close to me so if there were fishfarther out I wouldn't spook them. I quickly entered the zone. I wasconcentrating on fish so hard that I didn't even hear my father say, "Hey,Brad." And yet I heard the small trout break the water beside me. I turned,not moving my feet, and flicked my line around, yielding a six-inch brooktrout.

I moved on through the pool to my favorite hole. There I saw the"tank" I had come for. The large trout was sitting about ten yards infront of me on the surface.

My mind started to race, while myalready-shaking hands slowly lifted my line from the riffle and false-cast enoughso it lay right in front of the fish. Back and forth, back and throw. My lifeturned into slow motion as I watched my line unroll, leaving only small rippleson the already choppy water.

Then my leader came around, ending with myfly dropping right in front of the fish. The trout didn't notice at first, but asecond later it turned toward the fly. My muscles tensed and I prayed.

With a quick flick of its tail, the trout sped forward and slurped the flystraight down into its mouth. I reacted out of pure adrenaline and raised my rodswiftly so the barbless hook would make it all the way through the trout'sdelicate mouth.

Its head jerked and raced forward, trying to rid itself ofthe sharp intrusion. By now the trout had a good lead on my singing reel and rod,taking out all the line and starting on the backing. I reacted slowly in pureamazement, letting the fish tire itself on its run. My hand instinctively movedto the bottom rim of my fly reel, creating a drag so the fish would not take allthe line. I began to reel in the struggling monster.

Still tugging andpulling, the fish wasn't done. Exploding with energy, it ripped the reel handlefrom my fingers, rapping my knuckles, and started to run again just as I got thebacking back on the reel. The fish wouldn't stop in its effort to free itself.Worried about losing it, I kept the tension on, slowing the fish. It was leadingmy rod around like a kid pulling its mother toward a circus.

Eager to seethe fish, my brother Steve came up behind me. By now, the fish had all but givenup, and was being dragged by my bent rod and reel, floundering within armslength. I turned to Steve and nodded. His eyes lit up, and his hands shot to hisnet. I pulled the tired trout toward my brother and into his submergednet.

A sigh of relief went through my body as the battle ended. Mybrother's expert hands had already popped the barbless hook out of the fish'smouth, and he handed me my trophy.

The 21-inch rainbow trout's colorswould have made an Arizona sunset look boring. The fish's stomach was full andsagging. My eyes gleamed with pride.

The trout's big black eyes met minewith a look of sheer amazement. I knew I could have ended its life, but that wasnot what I had come for. Fly fishing is not about killing fish, it is abouthunting them. A true hunter learns their habits and their environment, becomingthe fish for just the pleasure of catching them and preserving them for the nextgeneration.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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