Her cheeks were so red they could stop traffic on a big city street. I cannot verify if she was the largest rainbow trout I had ever hooked, but her eyes were big as the buttons on my camouflage jacket and as sad as a guilty dog. I was startled when I got her close.
I had been fishing the Davidson River again. It’s almost in the backyard, and if I have to make a trip to the store or bank, I have to pass the river and invariably I have to stop and at least take a look, though mostly I stop and fish. Mrs. Koontz knows it takes me 3 to 4 hours to make a simple trip down the mountain to the store. She expects it.
This trip was no different. I had tried to fish a little late Sunday, but the sun was high and bright and the fish were skittish. I just walked along the bank and watched for rising trout. There weren’t any.
Monday appeared to be what all winter fly fishermen dream about, cloudy with a light, drizzling rain that makes for perfect blue wing olive weather and rising trout. My flybox was loaded with all the various sizes of BWO, as well as the regular midges and nymphs that seem to work on the Davidson.
I began the day with the tiniest nymph – a Christmas present – that was about the size of a capital “C” on this page. It was red with a little gold ribbing and unspeakably small. I had a heck of a time tying it on.I had caught some hefty browns in this run near the parking lot just a couple weeks ago. It was worth a shot. I began tossing the tiny fly up and across the current and let it swing down through some riffles, hoping it would get down deep enough to catch the attention of one of those monster trout that reside there.
It did, though at first I thought it was a log. I am not a very good nymph fisherman. I miss those subtle hits where the fish mouths the fly, then spits it out quicker than I can react. I almost never see the line jerk in the water when a fish takes it. I miss a lot of good fish, I bet.So, I was a bit surprised, as was the big trout looking up at me with those baleful eyes, when I got the fish close in the shallow water.Wow, I said. Then, she showed me just how educated and smart she was and, with her tiny teeth untied my knot, kept the fly as a souvenir and swam away, leaving me holding a rod with a slack line swimming in the water.
Davidson River trout have a reputation of being a little smarter than the average mountain trout and they often leave grown men grumpy and almost in tears with frustration. They have, I bet, seen every type and color and size of fly made. That’s why, I guess, we generally have better luck fishing the itty-bitty flies.
I’m thinking they like to wear those shiny things in their lips like punk-rock jewelry, but who would ever have thought trout were into body piercing? But then, the fly that fat trout stole matched her ruby red cheeks. She’ll be the envy of the others.