Stormy weather; it seems to be the order of the season. We have been more fortunate than some, with tornadoes ravaging the south even now, but it has been a wild April. There is a week remaining in this unsettled month, and it doesn’t look pretty from a fishing perspective. More rain to swell spilling reservoirs, more cold and wind.
I have found a little fishing, a few brief hatches of Quill Gordons and even Hendricksons between the snow squalls and breakneck winds, but the rivers have become colder rather than warmer, and the trout are loth to rise.
The first hatch I encountered was on a bright day when the sun pushed the air temperature to 61 degrees, the day after a 2 1/2 inch snowfall and the last warm day this week. The river peaked at a measly 46 degrees late in the day, and the hatch was light. There were a few flies for an hour or so, and I watched the surface intently for any sign of a rise. High cold water and fast current are not conducive to surface feeding, but I was hopeful.
At last I saw it, a little popping rise; once, then twice. By the time the third rise came I was casting a long line to cover it, my dubbed body Quill Gordon knotted to the tippet. The fish had moved, none of his rises coming from the same lie, so I dropped the fly a bit further upstream on each cast. The Gordon intercepted it on his fourth and final rise.
The oxygen in that high, rapid flow invigorated him despite the forty something water, and he bored downstream and into my backing while I grinned and tried to keep my feet from slipping. There was plenty of weight and power in his fight, and I wanted this fish badly, having waited six months for the opportunity. My desire increased when he cleared the water for the first time.
I regained my backing and most of my fly line, he took it back, and so it flashed back and forth through my mind: sunlight on bright water, a straining rod, a spinning reel and then he was airborne again!
It was finished, he was done and I had drawn the leader butt through my rod tip, net in hand and ready, he wasn’t ten feet away. One last slow rolling jump, like a slow motion film clip, showing me his length and width and vibrant bronze color, and the hook pulled free. The first trophy of the season simply wasn’t to be.
The run was quiet after that, even as the sun warmed the water to its peak for the day, there was no more. The flies petered out as quickly as they had appeared. I waited, convinced that another trout would find a drowned dun drifting behind a rock and betray his interest, but it was not to be.
Since then I have stood in the river buffeted by 30 mph winds in 38 degree water while frozen snowflakes circled my head, ever hopeful for the flies to come again.