April Fool

Point Mountain, Hancock, NY – April 16, 2020

Daylight, and it is snowing in Crooked Eddy. April First is the final traditional Opening Day of the New York trout fishing season, and Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Last evening I noted that our forecast had improved somewhat, though the high winds were still expected. It seemed that a window had opened that might allow me a couple of hours of fishing this afternoon. River flow was favorable, and the high temperature was supposed to reach forty degrees. April Fool!

As of 5:45 this morning that flow has risen 141% and is still climbing, steeply. The rain seems to have continued through the night, and it appears I will have to forego the pure joy of fly casting in snow laden twenty-five mile per hour winds in the name of tradition. The Red Gods do love to tease fly fishermen.

I have had many experiences to reinforce that belief. Hundreds of times I have stalked rising trout, slowly and carefully, armed with the perfect imitation, all in ghostly calm conditions. Reaching the ideal casting station I have lofted my backcast, only to have a terrific gust come up out of nowhere to blow my forward cast thirty feet off target and slap it down on the water. That scenario has replayed so often I could swear those ruddy beings have it on a tape loop.

Perhaps Nature simply decides that we brothers of the angle must pay our dues in deference to the marvelous gifts she offers for our enjoyment. How many perfect afternoons have we spent, enthralled by the magic of trout and fly? Some of the most fulfilling often involve very little catching; the fishing itself being quite sublime. I am certain I am not the only angler who has spent hours in a trance, bewitched by the vagaries of current, and a fine wild trout’s uncanny abilities to select the exact lie where achieving a drag-free float is virtually impossible. We cannot tear ourselves away!

Consider that Opening Day is simply the first installment of our annual dues. It is only right that we suffer a little. The cold, the wet, the biting wind that suddenly wraps our fly lines about our shoulders and inserts our fly onto the tops of our hats: all little tests to determine our worthiness for the season before us.

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