It was wrong of me I know, and though I may offer my reasons, there are no excuses for my failing. I had tried in good faith to fish a dry fly, relocating to a somewhat more protected pool. For a while the wind stayed down and I did fish the dry, an isonychia that I led carefully down multiple chutes over an uneven, rocky bottom that simply screamed holding water. Nothing rose, and before long the wind found me again and redoubled its efforts to drive me from the water. It was then that I failed, cut off my dry and knotted a soft hackle wet fly to my tippet, committing the sin of fishing the sunk fly.
It is not yet winter, though the wind driving through me on a fifty degree afternoon felt something like it. The wind was relentless, and it simply would not allow me to make a presentation with a dry fly. A few mayflies fluttered upon the surface, but no fish rose to sample one. I had missed two days of fishing already this week, and I wasn’t going to succumb to the evil wind and give up. So I sinned, I fished the wet fly down through all of that beautiful water I had covered with the dry.
My misdeed was not rewarded, and as I neared the tail of the pool I changed flies again, this time a soft hackle – streamer hybrid I had concocted in one weak moment at the vise. Something to sink a little deeper, something with flash and movement to tempt the fish I knew had to be there, too sluggish in the chilled water to rise for the mayflies that danced above them; a winter fly.
The swing was a viable presentation, and the only one the wind would allow, but that is no excuse for a sinner.
I cast and mended and the fly swung slowly as the current relaxed in the tailout and the line suddenly felt heavy. I struck and raised the rod and felt the pull of a fish, the drag of the CFO chirped and I began to reel and fight this unseen fish. When I brought it close in the clear water I began to laugh out loud at the size of the chub that was fastened to my evil sunken fly.
The wind continued to buffet me, and I cast between the gusts and continued: cast, mend, and swing; then two steps down and do it again. There was a jolt at last, a bent rod aloft, and a chorus from the old CFO. This was no chub! The thrashing fight, short, hard runs amid the screaming of the reel; it was joyous! The dark river bottom hid my foe from me until I finally drew him to the net. Imagine my surprise when a broad flanked Delaware rainbow more than eighteen inches long lay there quivering in the mesh!
We were miles from the Delaware, there in that lonely windswept pool on the Beaverkill, but that trout’s origin was never in doubt. A grand reward indeed for my sinful departure from the dry fly.
The chill lingers, and though I see mayflies on the water, no trout will rise. It is the same here as it was on the Delaware the last few times I angled her. Has the dry fly season slipped away without the ultimate pleasure of Indian Summer afternoons and trout sipping in the quiet pools? So it would seem, but I will not put away my dry flies just yet. Most of October is still before us, and winds may calm and the sun warm both air and water once again. Forgive me my failing, a divergent for just a moment. I still have faith that trout will rise again before the white blanket of winter falls.