What does your average, fanatical fly fisherman do when the sky erupts like an angry beast spitting cold wind, sleet and snow?
Go fishing, of course.
The temperatures had dipped like crash-diving planes, forcing me to sit inside the troutmobile with the heater blasting while I tied on a fly. Sleet sprinkled the hood of the car like salt. The wind howled. Sunday’s storm was on the way.
So, naturally I tied on a big ole’ bushy dry fly, a parachute Adams with a yellow post that made it easier to follow while the white stuff fell on the water. I had no luck out in the open but just before dusk I made one last stop to try for one of those little brown trout that love to hide under the bridge up the street.
I kept in the shadows so I wouldn’t spook any trout, though I hardly expected to find any. I moved slowly. Each step took about half a minute. When I got close enough to rollcast the fly into the current, I put it into the middle of the current just outside the shelter of the bridge. This happened a couple of times, with no success, and I was about to head for the cabin when I saw the splash and felt the tug at the end of the line.
The line cut one way and then another through the water’s surface, then the little rainbow gave up the fight, wiggled in my freezing hand while I tried to take a photo and then slipped back into the creek. The little white pellets of ice kept falling. The wind continued its angry howl and I called it a day.It was time for hot coffee and a night tying flies for the next day, which I thought would prove interesting with the oncoming snowfall. We expected a half-foot to 10 inches up the mountain, but it never happened. We got 4 inches, at best. By lunchtime Monday, just a muddy mush was left. The snow was pretty for a couple of morning hours.
Now, the roads were clear as the blue sky.Armed with a box of newly tied flies of all sorts and sizes, I assaulted the East Fork of the French Broad River, stopping along the way down the mountain at some of my other favorite spots.
I threw everything at them. I tried a fuzzy streamer. I tried a gray nymph. Then I tied on a yellow sparkly CDC dry fly. My Royal Coachman was ignored, as was everything else I tossed into the water. I was ready to just toss the whole box into the water.
Elsewhere in the state people we still digging out of the snow. Somehow, we had dodged the storm bullet, which allowed me enough mobility to get to some other water but which did not help me catch any trout.
Monday was a bust. I got skunked.
But, like that one good golf shot out of 80 nor 90 bad ones, that Sunday trout caught on a dry fly under an unpleasant sky was all that I remembered later.
A psychologist would call that selective perception, or something like that.
To me, it’s just another warm fishing memory that I am as comfortable with as a hot cup of coffee.