Sometime in the darkest hour of the night a splash of new water on an old rock transforms into a beautiful crystalline ice flower that dances just above the creek’s surface. Hanging and nodding like a buck dancer to fiddle music, the laurel branch sparkles in the moon’s silver light, surrounded by hills smothered in the latest snowfall. The only sound is the creek softly singing.
There is a lot to be said for winter’s hard and cold beauty. The field leading to the old barn lies quiet under a heavy cushion of smooth snow. Silence reigns. Stars sprinkled like spice spread across the sky. A full moon casts ghostly shadows and the night air has that clean, metallic taste only the coldest months seem to have.
But I yearn for spring. This has not been the best of winters for fly fishing in the mountains of western North Carolina, though there were a few marvelous days when the water warmed just a tad. But storms seemed to appear out of nowhere just in time to ruin roads and vehicles and smash any chances of getting on the river.
I really yearn for spring.
Just two weeks away, the new season seems to be sneaking up on us. It’s like that sometimes. One day it will be bitter cold, and then the next day will be balmy, perhaps even in the 60s. Before one knows it, flowers are blooming, grass is greening and trout are rising to tiny mayflies. There have been years when spring exploded in the hills overnight, flooding the mountains with waves of green. Little wild violets pop up along the banks.
So far this year, I have managed to land just two trout. Both of them hit the Tellico nymph with the little rubber legs and both were hefty rainbows caught near the cabin. If one were keeping score, winter was the victor in this fishing game.
I am ready to say goodbye to this winter of angling discontent. Today, there should be a good sampling of spring weather, a time for tossing dry flies and playing with frisky wild trout while the last of the ice drips from the rocks. There may be some March browns hatching, or perhaps some blue winged oilives and red quills. I’ll probably begin today throwing a big Adams into the current, with a little nymph tied on as a trailer.
Those two dozen midge nymphs certainly will be baptized today in the holy waters of the Davidson River. Since I spent the good portion of a snowbound weekend tying those exasperatingly tiny flies, you can bet they will get used.
And those little dry caddis flies will get their usual workout the next day on one of my little creeks up the road, for I know from the most recent scouting trips where some of those wild trout are hanging out.
For the next couple of days, at least, I will have discovered a glimpse of spring.
It’s time for the ice flowers to drip from their branches to make room for the laurel soon to bloom while the air fills with mayflies.