Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fly fishing stump time

Spring has been teasing me like that redheaded high school cheerleader who stayed just out of my reach for four long, lovelorn years. I cannot seem to catch up with it. For the past several weeks I have watched trees explode with blooms like popcorn. Wild violets dance among the grass and now the redbud blushes along the highways I have to drive each day.
And each of my past two weekends has been a bust, with bitter cold snow and ice followed by steady, miserable rain, each sandwiched between five wonderfully spring-like (work) days.
It’s becoming a bit too much to handle. All the dry flies have been tied, plus some bigger experimental streamers and nymphs, so I’m through with dreaming and ready for the mayfly hatches that fill the air with snowy golden bugs enticing hungry wild trout. I am ready. Boy, am I ready.The Troutmobile is ready too, sporting new brake pads to keep us from running off those snaky mountain roads. We changed the oil too.And though the world sparks to life with each spring, the tempo on the water eases. There is no rush. The sun sets later in the day, so you can fish way past dinner. There’s more time to study the water, if you please. There’s more time to watch and learn.I call it Stump Time.It’s time to spend sitting on a stump, waiting for the inevitable stonefly hatch or searching for tell-tale rise rings where trout are feeding. It’s a time to spend watching other fly fishermen, which can be a thing of beauty when the show is put on by a master. It also can be torture to watch a novice lashing the water’s surface with sloppy casts.
Stumps can be fallen trees, smooth rocks or just soft spots on the bank. I have found some rocks so smooth and comfortable that they put me to sleep in the afternoon sun almost as like a Lazy Boy recliner. Since I am slower than molasses when changing flies, these stumps also provide brief resting spots.
Stump time also can be the obvious period for reflection when the trout will not hit any fly tossed on the water. These are the times the trout have you … stumped. You have no idea which fly they want, or even it they want any fly at all. So, you reflect.
You can think about the fish, which is paramount, or you can lose yourself in the wonder of nature and just zone out for a while. I tend to the latter more and more. Drink the air in big gulps, wrap up in the comfort of the wild and drift off. Hawks and turkey buzzards soar in the sky. A beaver startles with a loud splash of warning. A doe shows up unexpectedly, looks you straight in the eye, and then is gone quick as a wink. Wow, where was that camera?
You have to love spring. It’s when all these things that really count brighten with a sharper focus. It’s flowers on the banks, buds on the trees and insects hovering over hungry trout.Spring is a season to be embraced.
Perhaps I can catch up today.

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