Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fly fishing feeling low with water low and slow

Nothing seems to be in any hurry in August.
Even the grass grows slower, so the enemy of fly fishing sat idle for most of last weekend, surrounded by tall weeds and grass that remained to be cut. The mower had been rendered silent, for lack of gas.
But there is a skinny freshly-cut path from the road to the cabin, so I feel like I had accomplished something worthwhile and deserved some sort of reward. The trout beckoned.
The water was low and oddly quiet. A bright blue sky swept with little feathers of cloud reflected in the river’s surface, and here and there I saw little trout leave a dimples where they sucked in a bug.
These are often difficult times to fish. With glassy smooth water that’s way too low, the trout can spot you way before you spot them. And the wild ones spook easily. A sloppy cast will scatter every fish in the pool. A hawk passing overhead will send them under rocks. A slip on a rock will send them into the next county. A fly caught in the current can leave a trail like a motorboat pulling water skiers, which also puts trout off.
Strangely, I love fishing this type of water in this kind of weather.
Although you have to dodge rude thunderstorms in the late afternoons, the sky usually opens up again after a 20-minute pounding.
Trees sway in the wind like they were underwater. River rocks steam and hiss after the rain, leaving a smell like fresh cooked greens in the air. It’s a good time of year to fish those ant and grasshopper flies. Hoppers can be the most fun. They actually work best with sloppy, splashy casts. Larger than most of the little dry flies I carry in the flybox, hoppers can bring out the largest trout from undercut banks and rocks.
Fishing ants, especially in itty-bitty sizes with long, web thin leaders, can be productive when nothing else is happening, and you can fish them in the smooth, quiet water with those long, slow drifts. I often find myself daydreaming about something other than fish before being startled out of my dream world by the violent splash of a big trout hitting the fly.
Just before dusk, I like to flip the fly across the water and let it drift lazily downstream for 30 or 40 feet until it sails within reach of a feeding trout. After what seems to be several minutes, a trout will rise, hit the fly and either hook himself while I try to pull in all that slack line or swim away. I catch some; I lose some.
With the moon peeking through silver clouds, it just doesn’t get much better. And, just before it gets too dark to see where to climb up the bank to the road, I climb up the bank and walk back to the cabin … slowly.
The mower didn’t move.

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