“That’s about as big as a fish that big gets”

i have no idea who the author of that quote is but it fits this fish and it’s story quite well.

smallest fish for the last couple of years over on a fly fishing forum we’d been doing an annual challenge on who will post the biggest, ugliest, deadest (found dead, not killed by the angler), prettiest and just about anything ‘est’ fish you care to post. two years ago i had won the ‘smallest’ category and had gotten a really nice Rio 4wt LT line as prize. cool. the fish was a cute baby yellow perch but catching it was a bycatch whilst trying to catch something a lot bigger.

sl 'smallest contest

now, last year i decided to turn things around and tried to catch the smallest fish i could but this time on purpose and this turned out to be the hardest fishing challenge i’ve had so far… i was living in Sweden at the time and this little creature and all it’s billions of sisters and brothers are extremely abundant in any lake and there’s millions of lakes in Sweden. probably more. (i don’t know what species it is. someone once told me what it is in swedish but that of course, like anything else in swedish, is impossible to remember… )
anyway, the hard part was actually hooking up to the fish. getting strikes was very easy and just a matter of plopping the fly near a pier. most of the time i could see dozens of them fight for it. the problem was the shape of the fish’s mouth and how regular hooks designed for ‘trout-type’ fish where incompatible so it meant reshaping the smallest flies i have with tweezers until i could find the right shape. i can easily state that it took several hundreds, maybe thousands of strikes before i finally hooked this one fish. it took three months.

the fish was approximately 55mm/2.16inches long and the fly was a size 30 chironomid rusty-red nymph made by my great friend Andy Baird.
even though it was the smallest fish of the year’s contest i didn’t win anything but that’s ok, the prize was a pretty lame, dorky looking cap…
this experience was a very interesting one and i’m glad i did it. it is however a ‘been there, done that ‘ affair and i’m quite certain i won’t be doing this again and will stick to targeting bigger fish, they’re a lot easier to catch.