Sustenance for the Spirit

December: somber tones graced by sunlight.

Glorious sunshine, and pleasant air temperatures called me to the river at last. I had retreated for too long, waiting for La Nina’s promise, waiting as the season’s first snow chilled the landscape bringing naught but thoughts of winter.

The sun spends too little time on the water this time of year, retreating behind the ridges far too early in the day, with good pools deprived of that promising combination of the warmest air temperatures and direct radiation. Nevertheless, good water is good water, and I cast a long line and fished slowly, thoroughly; hope at the end of my line.

The fly swung deep, dancing above the boulders, not bouncing between them like the dead drifters’ wares, ever searching for an active trout.

I learned long ago the importance of movement within a trout fly. Static patterns offer a visual clue with their shape, but a fly that quivers with life sends a deeper message. This one I have toyed with a while, finding the right combination of materials and techniques to bring attraction with subtlety and essence of life. The fly has been nudged and bumped in cold water but not taken, so I tinkered some more, needing only to encounter that active trout. Half past Noon, the river in the thirties and already in shadow; cast and mend, cast and mend.

The take came with a jolt, and my line hand tugged back instinctively, the rod coming back into its lovely bend: the active trout has been found! Rod tip bucking, I played him in the current, relishing each surge, surprised by his vigor in the cold. Close at hand I could see his white mouth working, down there on the shaded river bottom as he tried to shake the fly, but the pull of the rod brought him closer, and finally to the net.

The warmth of elation wrapped round me, all that for such a simple act; the same joy felt as a child with that first secret tug at the other end of a line! Winter hasn’t got me yet.

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