In my heart and soul, I am a wading angler. I crave that connection to the water and the trout I seek, the feel of current on my legs, the eye level view of the surface. I can analyze the drift much better when I am in it, identify the flies struggling in the film, track the drift of my imitation. True, a boat allows me to fish a great deal of water in a day, but wading allows me to fish it well, to know it and feel it in my soul.
I let my excitement rule me as I began my day, overreacting to a quick, hard popping take! I never felt the trout that took my tiny caddis imitation, the 6X tippet parting on my over exuberant hookset. After that first foray into the full spring flow of the river, I put away my wading staff and let myself get comfortable on my legs alone. The Red Gods granted me that much after missing thirteen of fourteen days of summer fishing outright, then either wading one severely limited reach of crowded water or floating for another week. They give, and then they take away.
With little in the way of insects in the drift, I knotted an experimental beetle imitation to my tippet. A murmer in flat current spoke trout to me and I laid a cast deep into the shade of an overhanging tree. The take was late in the drift, and he came to me immediately, while I tried in vain to get a solid hookset with too much slack between us. I saw him just as the hook pulled free. Yes, the Red Gods give, and they take away.
As morning melted into afternoon, I missed two more opportunities. The educated wild trout of summer love to follow a tiny dry fly, nipping and refusing only late in the drift, as inevitable drag begins. I switched back and forth as the sparse naturals came in brief, mixed bag flurries; sulfur to olive to caddis, then back. When the forecast calm winds turned blustery, that experimental beetle pattern found it’s way back onto my leader. There was one good trout that had risen a few times, and had ignored my tiny mayflies. The beetle proved to be mouthful enough to overcome his suspicions, and the battle was joined!
With spring like flows invigorating us both, he fought with remarkable vigor as the lithe wisp of golden cane arched and bucked in response to his energy! He ran hard, pulling backing through the guides and I worked my way carefully to shallower water while I gave line, reeled, and gave again as the great trout battled against the pull of the working rod. Thinking victory was at hand when the line returned to my reel spool, I relaxed a bit, only to hear the staccato music of the Trutta Perfetta come to a new crescendo as my foe took back what I had gained!
Finally I maneuvered for the netting, and the heavy body and deep, glimmering hues of a very wild twenty inch brown thrashed in the clear mesh.
Releasing my prize into the clear, shallow water brought another rush of gratitude and appreciation for the rivers of my heart. Thankful to return to the beauty of the Catskill summers I so cherish, I lingered in the moment, snapping another photo as the brown recovered at my feet.
The wind redoubled its efforts after that, with one mighty gust that gave me pause at its ferocity, and I scanned the skies to be sure some violent storm wasn’t headed up the river valley. A rouge wind, thankfully nothing more. I continued to cast the beetle along the tree-lined shore, but no more lurking browns revealed themselves. Walking out, I expressed my quiet gratitude for the moments of grace the river had granted.