Saturday, May 17, 2008

Great day for trout

A day in spring spent by a river can smooth the edges of a ragged soul. The air, still crisp from the morning’s chill, has lost its wintery metallic taste and is somehow a little bit sweeter in the afternoon sun.Last Sunday the dreary clouds cracked and broke, letting puddles of sunlight through the trees. Dark clouds moved to the side, leaving a gaping blue hole overhead laced with fluffy white. The day kept alternating between astonishing brilliance and threatening gray. It even sprinkled a bit, though it felt more like a blessing than curse on my fly fishing plans.I swallowed the air in deep gulps. I opened the trunk of the troutmobile, knocked the cap off a moderately cold beverage and began developing my strategy for the afternoon’s attack. Would it be tiny dry flies, little nymphs or perhaps a streamer or hopper?It was one of those rare, glorious afternoons when the back did not hurt, the river was not crowded and I had all the time in the world.And I took my time to savor it. I guess 10 or 20 years ago I would have been aghast at the thought of taking so much time just getting the first cast off. There were times when I drove to the river with the rod rigged and my boots already on my feet ready to get splashing away in the water. I was always in a hurry to catch trout then, as if they would all be caught and gone by the time I got there if I tarried to enjoy, say, the flight of a fishhawk overhead.But last Sunday I decided to make a sandwich first. And drink that bottled beverage cooled a little in the Davidson River.The sprinkle of rain felt good on my face. It never did break out in a full-bore rain, so the plans for a pleasant day were not spoiled.After about an hour checking out the new waders, putting the rod together, selecting just the right fly and finishing the sandwich, I was ready to actually step into the river and fish.I pounded that water with dry flies for about another hour, moved upstream a little and finally, fishless and frustrated, hopped into the troutmobile to head higher up the mountain to another, more friendly stretch of water.It was getting late and just a few insects were fluttering in the air. I saw few fish feeding. The day was dropping behind the trees, leaving the water dappled with waning sunlight.I had heard from the local fly shop that the cahills had been hatching. “Cahills, cahills, cahills,” the guide told me.And, at last, around 7 that evening there they were bouncing up and down in the air, touching the water’s surface with the most delicate landings only to pop up like Yo-Yos back into the air.Like any fly fisherman, I got excited. This, friends, is what we live for.I tied on a fairly big cream-colored dry fly, looked for a rise ring and let ‘er fly.I put the little fly about 12 inches to the right of the rise, watched it drift lazily and then disappear in a violent splash.Yeah!It felt heavy, a big trout perhaps, shaking and tugging at the other end. The reel sang as the fish took off downstream, then turned and came right at me before veering off again in the other direction. The rod bent and shook. I squeezed the cork grip tight, like I was trying to choke the life out of it. I felt the thump, thump, thump of what had to be a big brown trout.Then … surprise. It leaped from the water about a foot and a half, dripping droplets of water that sparkled in the air. These brown trout normally do not jump, preferring to tug and pull and run with your fly while trying to shake loose. This was a bonus.I brought him in after a few minutes, took hold of the fly and shook the fish off. He swam swiftly away.A beautiful way to end a beautiful day with a beautiful fish.I love spring.

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