Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's the secret?

What’s the secret?
The wind italicized the world, bending everything to one side. You could hear it whisper through the dying leaves but it was tough to figure out just what the big secret was. I just hoped it would die enough so I could whip my fly line over the quiet water and perhaps, with luck, actually catch a trout with a dry fly.
It almost never happens. The Baptismal Pool up the street from my cabin is mirror smooth but rough as broken glass to fish. The fish are wild and spooky. A kingfisher’s shadow sends them scurrying for cover under rocks deep in the pool. A sloppy cast scatters them every which way, and they seem to lose interest in eating little bugs on the surface for at least an hour.
I learned you have to be stealthly, to bend over or kneel when casting and to blend in with the surrounding rock and rhododendron if you want to catch one of these jewels.
The pool is pretty popular. People leave their Mountain Dew and smashed Bud Light cans along its banks. There’s the remnant of someone’s camp … a torn blue trap. There’s some half-burned wood from one of the bushes the campers sawed down. I wonder if they knew that wood produced poison smoke.
The pool, despite the small amount of litter, has been used for baptisms, weddings and as a wonderful place to cool off in the hot days of July, though the swing rope is now history after a winter storm tore down the tree it was tied to.
It’s a pretty spot. And way too close to the road.
But catching trout is the only part I am interested in. For six years, I have tried to master this little bit of heaven (hey, people get married and baptized here), only to be turned away fishless time and again.
Last week I had a little better luck, though I still left skunked.
I tied on a small dry fly and then added some fine tippet…about 18 inches or so. To that I tied a really tiny nymph. This just might do the trick, I thought.
So, I hunkered down at the head of the pool, next to the rushing water tumbling over smooth rocks. I stayed low, so the trout would not spook, and flipped the rig into the riffles, letting the flies drift downstream close to the steep bank.
I pulled out more line with each cast, let the flies swing around until the line was straight and held my breath.
Come on, trout. I have only a few minutes to fool with you. I promised Mrs. Koontz I would take her to the store and dinner at 3 p.m.
The sun stabbed through the hemlocks like prongs of a huge golden fork. My mind drifted ….
Then the rod shuddered, and there was a splash where my fly should have been. Dang. Missed him. Running out of time, I managed to miss three more trout before putting them all down for the day.
And as I left, I listened for the secret I wanted to hear.
But all I heard was the wind whispering through dying leaves.

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