How does one define the perfect fly-fishing day? The one day on the river that you never, ever forget. It could be a day when you catch all the fish you want, or it could be a day you finally catch that big brown that hangs out near the bridge. I was determined to find out.
The river was up after a week of rain. But I was anxious to get into some late afternoon fly fishing, so I tied a bushy, high-floating dry fly and let her rip through the current. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I mean really lazy.
I spent the first hour just getting rigged up, then reading some of the Sunday paper. I spent a bunch of time drinking in the cocktail of 100-proof color that lit up the mountains.
When I finally got up, on the first cast I hooked a wild trout, which jumped and flipped the hook with vigor.
Not a good beginning in the quest for the perfect fly fishing day.
Emerging from the creek, I noticed another car. Most campers had left long ago, way before Sunday afternoon, so I was a little startled to see humans, little humans at that, scurrying about the banks with little fishing rods. They asked if there were any trout there. I said they might be a little tough to catch today, but you never know. They’re in there, I assured the little anglers.
They were about 6 and 4 years old, I guessed. One held a rod with a big ole hook at the end of the line with enough corn to feed a pig, while his little brother had a little kid’s rod with a stick of wood tied to the end of the line. I figured the stick gave it some weight so he could practice casting until he was as old as his big brother and could fish with real bait.
Their mother said her dad brought her to this spot when she was a child, and they caught trout then.
Well, I said, I just lost one.
I began reeling in line, getting set to try some spots upstream, perhaps make it up to the waterfall if there were not too many leaf-peepers hogging the one-lane road.
I pulled out a little, then stopped, backed up and cut off the engine. The little fishermen were still standing with their rods and dirty faces.
Opening the back of the car, I grabbed a fly box and took two black wooly buggers — a fly sometimes considered as one for all seasons and all fish — and walked over to the bank.
I handed one to the oldest boy, who seemed delighted with his new treasure, and then gave the other to the little fellow.
They both looked at those scruffy flies, then looked up at me with smiles wider than a fat trophy trout.
Christmas came early.
The next day sparkled with fall sunshine. The river was clear as new glass, and I caught everything I cast to with whatever fly I chose to use.
Most would consider that the perfect fly fishing day, and I guess it was close to that.
But I’ll remember the previous day longer.
One can catch trout anytime, but the face-splitting smiles of little boys are rare.
That was a perfect fly-fishing day.