Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cloud ate the blue sky




With a couple of hours before Mrs. Koontz was ready for the drive into the big city, it seemed only natural to ride up the road to my favorite little creek. The sky was clear as new glass. The sun was achingly bright. And I had the itch to get outdoors.
It seemed foolish to do otherwise.

You know such conditions do not auger very well for trout fishing, for those little wild fish I like to catch are more than spooky in the gin clear water under the sun’s spotlight. They are near impossible to catch. Cloudy days are usually better.

There were no insects hatching but, hey, this is winter. It was an in between type of day that was not quite warm to get the fish dimpling the surface with their rise rings but not cold enough to keep a fly fisher inside tying flies for next year.

Yeah, I bundled up and went.
Out of the path of the wind, the sun felt soothing. I took my time, in no hurry for anything since I had at least two hours to kill. I lazily got my stuff out of the truck … waders, boots, rod, vest. As I began putting on the waders I felt a little chill and looked up.

Aghast, I realized that a cloud black as a new Bible was eating my blue sky sunshine in one big voracious gulp. Within a minute the entire afternoon changed complexion and the temperature dove like a falcon after a rabbit.
I wrapped up some more, adding a sweater and a fleece jacket over my camo jacket.
The air snapped at my fingers like a hungry dog. I decided to get back into the Troutmobile, fire up the engine and defrost in the dragon breath roaring out of the heater.

It got colder, it seemed, when I emerged from the car to string up the rod.
A thin snow fell like petals. The only sound was the creek dancing over rocks.

I tried the old favorite spots where trout had hit the fly in the past. With a little dark caddis tied on, I flipped it into the little pools and puddles against the bank. I caught a tree and a bush, but managed not to lose the fly. This was no time for changing flies with numb fingertips. I almost cried when I dropped my pliers into the water. My hand came out numb.

The creek opened a little, allowing a full-throttle cast to the gentle water upstream. There was plenty of air be-hind me and no trees to reach out for my fly. It felt good to let a long cast loose on this little creek.
It would have felt better to catch a trout.

But there are times when you just go fishing because you can. Life never promises to let you catch the fish, so you go out and just try and breathe deeply. That cold air seems to have a healing effect, and it makes a heart merry.
The snow kept falling like little mayflies boogeying in the air. The dark cloud hung overhead.

That night while driving home from a big city dinner, the sky opened just a tad, almost like a curtain drawn back from a round window, and presented one of nature’s rare visual treats, a light show with a cosmic theme as Jupiter, Venus and a sliver of the waning moon grouped tightly.

Perhaps they meet to catch up on solar system gossip. It doesn’t happen often. And it won’t occur again for many years.
For a moment, it was there for us. The clouds took away my sunny afternoon but returned to give us something special at night.

1 comment:

Cutthroat Stalker said...

Hugh,
Nice post - I can just see that sky eating Bible (was it NIV or KJV?).

I've found it's better to gut it out when you first get cold instead of trying to warm up, then go back out (I'm usually twice as cold after "warming up"). I do love fishing in a gentle snowfall though.

Seeing the conjunction was definitely a makeup for your cloudy fishing.

Thanks for sharing!

-scott c