Saturday, December 13, 2008

Time's fun when you're having flies

Sunlight sparked off the water in the silver winter air. It was cold enough to sting your fingers in the shady spots, but in the open it was a nice day, too pretty to stay inside.
The fog that had draped the mountains during the morning had fallen off, way back behind the ridges, so even though the forecast for fish activity was poor, I headed down the mountain to the “Delayed Harvest” waters.
It’s a dizzying ride down my hill to Rosman, with more twists than a plate of linguini. Then, you follow another little curvy road. Once there, though, it’s usually worth it. And it gets easier.

It is so easy that you can just about stop your car, roll down the window and cast a fly from the road.
It is that accessible.

And, it is guaranteed that there are at least some trout in that water to fish for. You may not catch them. But they are there, for from October to June the fishing is entirely catch and release. After the second Saturday in June, you can keep ’em, gut ’em and cook ’em if you like.
Sometimes, I do.

But this is December. I toss ’em all back, if not because of the law, then because it is too cold to hold a trout, dress him out and stuff him in the vest for later. By the time you finish all that fuss, your hands are numb as river rock.
The air had a briskness to it earlier, then warmed a bit into the high 40s, but I saw no fish rising in the usual spots.
Since it was Monday, I had most of the water to myself, and I took my time. There was really no hurry. It was early in the afternoon.

But nothing was hitting, bumping or even for all I know looking at the two-fly rig I drifted through the riffles and runs. At least the waterfall was pretty, and the air around such falls always makes me feel good, for which there is a scientific explanation but I did not care.
All was well in the world. I was at peace.
But I was determined to catch some trout this time, so it was more than a little encouraging to see rise rings downstream.

I eased within casting distance of the first feeding trout, figuring they were either gobbling up blue wing olives or dark caddis flies from the surface.
I changed flies. The little olive CDC flies seemed to be just the trick, floating low in the film because of its lack of hackle. The first fish sipped the fly as it drifted across and down the river, jerked his head, cut a zig-zag pattern with the line through the water and even jumped once.

I caught a handful during the next hour, all fat and pretty for hatchery-bred brook trout. I fell into a mindless groove.

I had intended to return to the cabin after about an hour or two but managed to kill the entire day.
Was there something I was supposed to do for Mrs. Koontz at the cabin?

Like they say, time’s fun when you’re having flies.

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