The river draws me like a light beckoning a moth. Honeysuckle and multifloral rose sweeten the air until it’s as thick as syrup, clouds drift overhead and trout begin to rise. A gentle June breeze whispers soft as a sigh.
You have to love June.
Winter’s a distant, brittle memory. The storms of early spring have gushed and rumbled, leaving plenty of water in the creeks and rivers, and the mayflies have begun to hatch by the thousands, filling the air like confetti in a victory parade.
Wildlife arouses from their slumber. Two deer crossed the dirt road at noon the other day, paused for just a blink, and then scampered into the Pisgah National Forest while a hawk hovered overhead. Bear begin to appear in folks’ yards, overturning trash cans and raiding bird feeders.
The forest is alive.
Normally, a fly fisherman would clad himself with dark greens and browns so as to hide from wary wild trout. I have heard this all my life, but in reality it’s really the goofy, clumsy movements of anglers stumbling over rocks waving long sticks over their heads that give pause to the wild fish and put them down.
If you watch the blue heron fish, you will notice hardly any movement until the moment of truth when he stabs at the water to catch dinner. When the heron moves, it moves sloooooooowy. It takes delicate, gentle steps. There are no splashes.
Herons, unlike anglers, never slip and splash in the water. These birds know if they mess up, they go hungry.
I generally wrap up with camouflage shirts, tan waders and a dark green hat so I can blend in with the surroundings. I’m sure it helps.
Now, it’s June. The laurel blooms dot the forest like white butterflies, so I can now blend even more, almost disappearing amidst the green and white with my white whiskers and Virginia Tech Hokie hat. In other seasons, that hat would flash like headlights; in June it’s just another part of the scenery.
Fish can’t see me.
Last week I spent an hour at the fire station hole, caught about 15 rainbow trout using just about any fly I chose out of the box and had a ball.
Fish couldn’t see me.
A sudden storm drove me under the bridge for 30 minutes or so, and I kept on catching those rainbows, though I kept my hopes up for a big brown somewhere.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of gold coming out of the water for a carelessly drifting mayfly. Ka-splash, the fish went. It was a brown trout. I did not catch him, though I spent way too much time trying.
I just kept on catching those rainbows, which I’m sure were not raised in the creek but in a hatchery. They were a little tame, pretty stupid and scarred from an early life in concrete tanks. I tossed them all back, but resolved to return and cook a few later this month — a streamside meal of smoky trout roasted over a stick fire is hard to beat. And the scenery beats any restaurant’s ambience; I got flowers on every table.
And with my white hat and whiskers, I melt into the surroundings with the ease of a laurel petal floating to the ground.
Fish can’t see me.