I have been waiting for this weather since last summer! Cool morning air with a hint of a freshening breeze at sunrise gave way to a pleasant overcast and calm conditions, as I stalked the still water of the river. The flow still carries the contributions of the tributaries that were recharged by the tropical storm and its aftermath. Best of all, this morning’s water temperature was perfect.
I spotted a few soft rises here and there, small fish cruising about and sipping… what? The ant was ignored. I saw a tiny bubble in the film with dark tones and a sparkle, and flying ants sprung to mind. I knotted a freshly tied size twenty only to have it ignored as well as its larger brethren. There usually isn’t much on the surface of the river at this season, just a couple of these and a couple of those. A Flick olive wasn’t the answer either.
I finally got one of those little bubbles to stick to my fingers and spied a crumpled trico dun inside. Not going to play that game I decided, too few of them anyway.
I was tying a size 22 olive T.P. Dun to my 6X tippet when I saw one good rise. Several perfect drifts brought no response. Was this fish moving too? When one of the mid-river sippers would rise I offered the fly, but no one was playing the game this morning. Fifteen, twenty minutes later and there was the good rise again, one time only, in a different spot near the bank. No reply to my overtures with the little olive.
I decided to work that area piece by piece, hoping to intercept the moving fish as he travelled his quiet little milk run. I’d selected a copy of my Grizzly Beetle in a size 17, thinking it might be enough of a morsel to interest the larger trout. I began my search where the last rise appeared, then extended my casts upstream, first a bit further out from the bank, and then working in toward it a little at a time. His rise wasn’t a big bulge this time, just a bubble when his nose broke the surface. My 7 1/2 foot bamboo rod arched deeply when the hook pulled tight and started throbbing with weight and energy!
There was no click music to break the silence this morning, as the reel I bought for that rod years ago is a silent little Galvan, with the smoothest drag in the world. He pulled, darted, then made a long run downstream, and all the while my smile was growing. The supple cane and that Galvan drag helped me protect the 6X tippet that the small flies and summer conditions dictated.
By the second long run I gained more confidence that this leviathan trout was coming to the net, as I stopped that run somewhat shorter than his first. There were tense moments each time I tried to draw him close; there’s only so much pressure you can apply with 6X, even when it is cushioned by the life in the magic bamboo. Every time I got a good look at him my excitement grew, and every time he turned and powered away once again.
It isn’t every day you lead a twenty-five inch brown trout into your net, particularly on light tackle, and I was truly shaking as I removed the fly and fumbled for my camera while keeping the net submerged. I thought I got a good shot of him in the net, that is until I downloaded my shots to find a beautifully focused picture of the front of my waders and my leader nipper. The underwater aftermath shot wasn’t bad, though I missed the tip of his nose. I can’t see the viewfinder once I submerge the camera, adding a new challenge to “point and shoot”.
That beetle stayed firmly attached to my tippet from that moment on, as I fished carefully on into afternoon. That fly was eaten once more, providing another thrill with a twenty-one plus brownie to bend my darkly flamed little stick. That trout ate the fly a microsecond before I pulled the slack out of the leader on my pickup for another cast, so that the pickup became the hookset. That kind of timing usually works the other way – against me. I guess, this time, it was just my day.