Sustenance for the soul

A Nice Spring Brownie from another time

There are times you seek a friendly reach of water simply to quiet the noise within. Yesterday was such a day, rainy with banks of dark, foreboding clouds, and still the wintery feel we have become accustomed to this wayward spring. I didn’t expect activity, I simply needed the time on the water.

I had chosen an old friend, my Thomas & Thomas Paradigm, a 9 foot two piece rod for a five. Remember two piece fly rods? There was a time when the majority were built that way; until the industry decided we needed to fly everywhere to go fishing. It is a gentle old rod, with a smoothness and supple feel that belies it synthetic heart, and I was in the mood for some gentle casting.

Standing in the edge of the flow I surveyed the pool in front of me, its surface still racing with the urgency wet weather brings. I was surprised and heartened to see a trout rise toward the far shore, so I began to make my way to him. It was early but I could see a few mayflies in the drift. Assuming Quill Gordons I chose a dubbed comparadun. The Paradigm lofted the line beautifully and sent the fly on its way, short that first time as is my habit, testing the drift before presenting the fly over the fish.

Wading into position, the trout had risen twice more, moving and restless. I had made half a dozen casts to the places he had risen, long down and across stream casts that let the fly drift throughout the alley he was frequenting. I was retrieving the excess line when I felt the tug of life and found a spirited trout that decided my dry fly made an acceptable streamer. A lucky trout can be a gift, and it was on this gloomy afternoon.

Releasing a plump 15 inch brown from my net, I pondered the realization that this could be a much better day than I had any reason to expect. The water was still cold, in the low forties, and the insect activity still sparse, but nature goes about her plan.

That first fish rose again, and I offered him the fly. He accepted with a flourish, somewhat larger than the first, but won his freedom well short of the net, bringing a shock at the suddenness of his departure; and a smile.

I had to move 50 yards upstream to work to another rise, forging through the fast thigh deep current, and working the muscles too long dormant through this interminable winter. Once in position, a second trout betrayed his presence, and I worked this closer fish first, then cast to the steadier feeder in the fast chute next to the far bank. There were few flies in this faster reach, some of those smaller than the Gordons, so I played the game.

Two Quill Gordons, different ties in 14 and 16, a proven Blue Quill parachute, and finally a size 20 Adams with a chartreuse post that I could easily track along the bank, these complete with a tippet change and various repositionings. No sale to either fish.

Back into the rush of current, I pushed further upstream where I had seen a white wink tight to the bank. The larger flies were back again, so I knotted a sparse, perfect Catskill Quill Gordon tied a day ago to my tippet. The trick was to place that fly an inch from the rocky bank, no more and no less, on a downstream cast with an upstream reach. My old friend was perfect for this game!

I had noticed that my nemesis downstream had not risen again, and was theorizing that the bank feeder I was now casting to might be the same trout moving up along that bank. Deep in thought, I reacted nearly too late when the little wink displaced my Gordon on the surface. The trout was hooked solidly though, and I felt his weight as he bulled his way into the heart of the river’s flow, and the Hardy sang.

The rod arched into a perfect bow, countering the thrusts and headshakes of the trout, finally overcoming both his strength and that of the rushing river. In the net he measured a respectable 19 inches, broad and deep in the chest.

The light rain had subsided by then, and I pulled down the hood of my jacket for the last time. There was another wink or two along that bank, though not with any regularity, and I whiled away some time fishing until I sensed the approach of evening.

Moving back downstream I saw a ring below the rock where the first of the earlier pair of risers had ignored my offerings. “So you’re back”, I thought.

I had changed to a CDC winged Quill Gordon, so I cast it down and across along the bubble line trailing that trace of current, the soft fibers of the wing dancing! My adversary simply couldn’t resist. Caught in the full force of the channel, this stocky 15 inch trout gave a good account of himself, coaxing a few notes from the Hardy, and resisting the net until the last. I found the fly in the hard side of his lip, twisted it free, and sent him on his way.

A dyed wild Turkey Biot body, natural dun CDC puffs and splayed hackle fibers create a lively fly!

I eased my way downstream, knowing my fishing was completed, and noticing the sky was beginning grudgingly to clear. The air felt slightly warmer, though that could have been the exertion of my wading against the current. I stood for a while at the edge of the pool, giving thanks in my heart for a couple of hours of peace and joy.

Before I turned toward the car, I surveyed the water up and down one last time. There was a soft rise well down the pool which brought a smile; perhaps one last kiss? I waded down and across slowly, the river pushing at my heels. The CDC winged fly was still damp from the last trout, so I dug into my pocket for the floatant, and brushed the powdery crystals into the feather, bringing the fly back to life.

Another rise, and one last long cast, the loop unrolling slowly and laying the fly gently above my mark. The drift perfect, as was the moment, with the sun fighting through the breaking clouds for a brief twinkle on the water as the trout rose to take the fly. Lost in the bow of the soft rod, the music of both the Hardy and the river in my ears, I could stay that way forever.

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