One Fish

Reclined With Dry Fly

After two days of pop up winter, spring has returned with all it’s bluster. The sun feels good, with enough layers of clothing to keep the worst of the wind at bay, and I am glad for it as there is a lot of waiting to do today. With water temperatures dropping from the low fifties to some forty degrees, it is anyone’s guess whether I will find a target for my dry fly.

Two and a half hours of contemplation, broken up with a couple of short walks, even a brief wading foray or two, just to test my leader for the wind. Fly fishing teaches patience; at least if you let it.

There was a time that I was like the multitudes, rushing in to beat the water to a froth. Trout were caught so surely this must be the way – or isn’t it. The gentle spring creeks taught me the value of time, observation, and the contemplation that brings understanding of just what it is that one is seeing.

I knew the odds were stacked against me when I saw him, suddenly rising four or five times in a pocket of dead water tight to the far bank, the full width of the flow between us; and the wind. A hard upstream blow, strong enough to reverse the current in that pocket, it really thrived as soon as I entered the water. Stalk and wait; nothing else to do. One trout to fish for, a lone player for the game.

The sun filtering through the budded tree limbs lights everything upon the surface with a glow, but there, among the seeds and detritus there are tiny wings! Blue Quills? My bright winged pattern hides between the flies and seeds and I still can’t track it on that brightly lit stage, and what’s this; he’s moving. Perhaps he doesn’t like that wind current playing with his dinner any more than I like it inhibiting my cast.

He’s got himself a fine little milk run now, fifteen feet of bank with a five foot wide dead zone. No, not dead, just very, very slow, just past the seam of the fast water. Slower still when the gusts reverse the flow and everything swirls. He doesn’t rise then, but he moves, follows things in toward the bank, but only sometimes. When the whim strikes him he follows something out to the seam and plucks a morsel there, right there where I can get him easily; but he doesn’t stay, won’t linger in that seam. There’s no pattern to deduce!

Those first happy rises, the ones that brought me over here to stand in the deep cold current, had me thinking he was a smaller trout, but the milk run and his sipping changed my mind. This is a big trout, a wily old brown taking advantage of the habitat he knows so well. He’s really eating, working upstream and down, back and forth along the five by fifteen foot alley. He pauses when the hard gusts blow, then starts hunting all of the bugs that got blown back upstream.

I can see larger flies out here in the current, Hendricksons, perhaps Red Quills. I’ll try one of them, yes this cripple ought to look vulnerable to him. Floating low, everything I put over there is tough to see. So many naturals, and all of those damned seeds – what I wouldn’t give for this wind to quit!

I can track the Hendrickson better, and its calmer now, but he won’t touch it. Has to be eating the small stuff. Red Quill? No. He won’t touch that either. Here comes the wind!

Back to the Blue Quills, a different pattern this time. I hate this wind. Come on… eat it! I’ll try a different one. Wait for the gusts to subside, yea that’s a nice float, but he ain’t buying. Maybe he’s only eating the ones with their legs crossed. Could they be olives? Don’t think so, not mid-afternoon on a bright sunny day. Spinners? Not in this wind.

Let me get a couple of steps closer, shorten the cast, give the wind less time to blow it off course. I think I can manage it with the staff. There, that’s better. Down and across would be better but I can’t wade there. Let’s try that Blue Quill Poster, maybe I can see it better now…

It’s not so brightly lit over there now. The sun’s going over the ridge a little. What’s it been, two hours? He got feisty a few times, stuck his nose out a couple of times and waggled his dorsal. They’re not as far apart as I expected. He’s not as big as I thought, but he will be if he keeps eating like that; a very worthy opponent. Not so many flies now, the hatch is dwindling.

Another calm spell and he’s moving again, sliding back downstream below his alley. Picking up stragglers. Let’s try this dark little mahoghany dun… yes, I can see that light CDC wing better. Not so much on the water either; time is short if I’m going to get him. Better drift down there with the downstream cast… but he still doesn’t want it.

I think he’s done. The drift looks clean now. Bravo Mr. Brown! You ate your fill and avoided my efforts. I’d like to find you running that alley on a calm day!

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