Most of you know it as Daylight Saving Time, but we flyfishers look at the March time change as Daylight Fishing Time, for we get an extra hour in which to fish. The first day, though, can be a little tough. We lose sleep. For the first day of DFT we stagger a little, our bodies still clinging to the time frames of the past.
Then we get over it. By the beginning of the second DFT day, we’re ready to assault the streams and rivers way past dinner time, and now that spring has sprung and the air has softened, we can fish right into the blackness of night.
We have late dinners.
Last week it was still a little chilly, a little windy and a little less like spring, which was, after all, another week away. I spent about an hour getting skunked on the Davidson River Sunday under darkened skies.
Monday dawned bright as a camera flash. The sky was bright blue with just a few cotton-like clouds. The water levels were just right. I figured it would be a good day for fishing in one of the Delayed Harvest rivers where, from October to June, the fishing is catch-and-release. You may not catch them all the time, but you know there are trout ready to tease or please.
The East Fork of the French Broad River is just a 30-minute serpentine ride down the mountain and through some lovely farm country where old barns and farms line the road to the river. At the first bridge the catch-and-release section begins. There’s a little pulloff spot, with enough room for one vehicle, and I stopped to rig up the rod and don the waders. The water was still cold with snow melt.
There were way too many anglers. My favorite spot with the long, mirror-like pool had been claimed. I pulled over at a place I had never tried, fished a bunch of different flies for about an hour with no luck. One of the locals stopped to talk, and I learned that his son and his buddy had been catching fish with San Juan worm flies and wooly buggers.
My green inchworm fly attracted only scorn. I began to worry that I may have to face the embarrassment of getting skunked on a Delayed Harvest river full of frisky trout.
Then I tied on the black wooly bugger, a big ole nasty-looking fly that can resemble all kinds of trout food from small minnows to little crayfish.
All I know is those trout loved it. They chewed it ragged.
The first trout to hit looked as big as my leg. That slab of silver and blush red rolled in the fast current, tugged at my fly and then slipped off the hook. It was a strong, hefty rainbow that tested my little 4-weight fly rod to the limit … for a few palpitating seconds.
For the next hour, I couldn’t keep them away from my fly.
One after another they hit that fly, tugged on my fly rod like big dogs holding on a chew toy and did a few Shaun White imitations with aerial displays. I lost count of how many.
I quit early. I had a dinner date with Mrs. Koontz.
And, after dinner, there was still time to fish a little more.
I love DFT.