The sunlight through the troutmobile’s windshield was deceptively soft and warm. It was not what one would call a perfect day for fly fishing, for the air was raw as stripped wire with enough wind to hurt, but as the road slithered up the mountain the urge to get out and fish for trout became as inviting as that faux warmth inside the car.
There was a handful of newly-tied flies inside the vest begging to prove their worth. The gear was in the back. There was a chicken sandwich on the front seat next to me and I was on a mission for fishin’.
But, boy, was it cold when I drove up the dirt road to the first campsite. The boots, still wet from the previous week, and waders and fly rod were willing, as was my spirit, but the flesh can be weak, however much wool and fleece you cover it with.
The rod stayed comfortably inside its carrying case.
I got uncomfortably out. By late afternoon, there was still a little sunlight but not enough. The temperature was in the teens and dropping with the sun.
I walked beside a trout stream unarmed, just sauntering along chasing the waning sun up a snow-lined dirt road, then off to the right to follow the first trail that hugs a little feeder creek.
Even with water levels a little high, this creek was scarcely more than a trickle. I decided to follow it to its end.
So, for the second time in about two decades, I took off walking in the forest with no intention of fishing.
I never much liked hiking as such, though the old recluse Henry David Thoreau, in calling the practice by another name, makes it appear as an acceptable substitute when it’s really too late in the day and much too cold for fly fishing. He preferred to call it sauntering, or walking aimlessly with no set destination in mind. Just meandering about among the tall trees.
Well, I did have that little creek to sing along with, so I never quite got trout completely out of my mind.
There was still ice in spots, dripping from the rock where road meets mountain. It’s a pretty time of year, sparkling like diamonds in the day’s last bit of light, the banks draped in sheets of snow.
When it’s a fresh, deep snow, there is nothing but the smothered whisper of silence.
Today, I’ll deal with snow that is half-way gone, with probably just enough to make getting to the water a slipping adventure, and noisy trucks full of hunting hounds will kill all chance of quiet.
No matter. I know there is a rainbow trout in the creek by the first campground, and another just upstream. The upstream spot is one of my trusty standbys when I can find fish no where else; the other trout was a surprise, and I believe I know just how to catch him.
And if not, I’ll saunter up the road chasing the day’s last soft rays sunlight.