Perfect Delaware River Evening

This week has been glorious. Three perfect days and nights, the kind that make me long for summer every January. It is sad to say that only one such day remains. The forecasters have the hot weather returning for a week this Friday, curse them! Certainly not their fault, but I was hoping that the perfection of this week would last through September.

Fishing has been blissful, as I spent each morning on the river, lingering until afternoon just to see what the warmer hours might bring. The results have varied, as the results of fishing always do, but oh the execution was something!

If I were my younger self I would still be out there right now, stretching the day to its ultimate conclusion. I can feel the chill as the sun sets this evening just by thinking about it. Tonight’s low will be forty-eight they say, a final salute to those of us who cherish the chill at dawn!

In truth, when I look back at decades of summer evenings I don’t count a lot of memorable catches. The evenings yes, they were memorable, but there never was a lot of action to produce great catches. Springtime and the first blush of summer brings the best evening fishing. Late summer evenings are more in the class of a balm to the soul. They offer us a chance to linger in the memory of springtime, to clutch those special moments to our chests and hold onto them forever, through the long months of winter that will inevitably come.

One among dozens of July evenings on the West Branch, the sky simply magic, the mist rising on the past…

I will spend an evening or two on rivers before this summer wanes and autumn brings the first cold winds. It is an old way of saying goodbye.

When I travelled to find my fishing in the Catskills, high summer marked the end of my season here. Evenings were bittersweet, as I knew all too well what they foretold. Some times I would find a trout rising, play the game until darkness came calling. Other nights I would sit along the river and gaze at the quiet mirror of the surface, remembering mayflies fluttering there, and the battles won and lost beneath. There was joy and melancholy as the days of that last trip slipped away, for when I turned at last toward home, I knew there would be no return for half a year.

I am a resident now, and my days are my own. I can wander the rivers at any season of the year, and I do. I have passed two winters here, taking to the water on the warmer days, and I am yet to see a trout rise between October and April. To pass time on the rivers I swing flies down the current, hoping to meet a trout not offended by my failure to present him with a proper dry fly. At times I sit and watch with hopeful thoughts, like that first March day the stoneflies skittered along the top. Too many years along the limestone springs have spoiled me. No prayer, no offering will turn 35 degree water into 50 degree water. No trout will rise until April.

Well, here I am thinking of goodbyes, and it is only August. The light turns a bit at this time of year and makes me think of autumn and year’s end, it always has.

Autumn Light

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