Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Air was cold but fishing was hot

All week the sky was glistening brightly with bluebird color. The air was soothing after a brutal winter. The fish were moving, looking for spring insect hatches, and I had spent the previous weekend tying tiny midge flies with the idea of assaulting some quiet, deep river pool full of monster brown trout.

Anticipation heightens any sensory experience, so I waited for my chance after a week staring at a computer screen. I needed air. And trout.

I was anxious and ready, with a fly box overflowing with little midge flies.
Sunday dawned gray as an old battleship wrapped in a dismal fog. As the day progressed, the air got cooler and wetter and by the time I arrived at the mountain cabin, it was a downpour as strong as a blast from a fire hose. No time for anglers.

Monday dawned gray but dry. Fly fishermen thrive in such weather, funny as that may sound. About the time I had my second cup of coffee, the snow was falling pretty steadily, though it was in the form of little pellets that looked like packing material, not snow, but that soon changed to a relentless shower of icy flakes that threatened to slick up the mountain roads.

I stayed in the neighborhood, venturing less than a mile from home to fish some rambunctious water I had never tried, primarily because ot its proximity to riverside homes. It’s difficult to be alone when you feel somebody’s eyes looking at you through a kitchen window. I always feel like I’m sort of trespassing, though there are no warning signs.
With the water high and frisky, there was only one fly to tie on — a black wooly bugger. I’d toss it with a little split-shot, watch it go ka-plunk with a loud splash and then let it swing around downstream, at which point I stripped it back slowly.

The trout loved it. The first fish, caught almost in the country store parking lot, hit the fly like he was mad as it drifted toward the bank.
The snow kept falling, chilling my nose. Wrapped in plenty of wool and fleece, the only cold body parts were fingers and a red nose. There was no finding those fleece gloves, especially on the third official day of spring, so my fingers felt like they had been crushed in the car door.
But what’s a little pain when you’re catching more trout than you can count?

There was one spot on the new stretch where a pile of flood cobble lined one side of the bank, which dipped off into a deep pool. The landowner must have pushed all those river rocks to the side. Most were smooth as hen eggs. All were tricky on walk across.

A big rainbow hit the wooly bugger, rolled in the rapids and popped off with the fly in his mouth and almost broke my heart for he was by far the biggest fish I had hooked all year.
With frozen fingertips, I tied on another the same color and size and kept right on gettin’ on until my arm tired.

It had been a fine day. It was so good I quit before darkness sent me home, a mere four hours spent on the water.
That night I tied more flies. But I probably won’t need them today, as I expect gentler, warmer water and perhaps some trout sipping mayflies off the surface.

I still have those midge flies.
I’ve been anticipating such all week.

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