Summer’s Twilight

That seems to be the sign posted at the entrance to October, at least for me. Twenty-one inches of rain during July, August and September wasn’t enough it seems, and so the rivers remain high, too much so for the wading angler.

I have spent some time in the mountains, chasing the ruffed grouse that have denied me a shot. I even had a great afternoon hunt with JA and Finley! I have to say, that sweet girl worked hard and put up some birds for us, but the ruff is legendary for it’s ability to avoid the clear lanes through the forest where a hunter’s shot column might intercept their escape. The early season is the most beautiful time to be in the mountains, but all the leaves make it doubly hard to swing true on our most regal game bird!

There is great joy in watching a good dog work though. Her efforts clearly show how much she loves it. Excitement all but boils over when she sees the guns and the orange caps upon our heads, but she gets right down to business as soon as we pass the eaves of the forest. Hunting close, coursing through the cover, JA rarely uses his whistle to direct her. Thank you Finn.

There is no doubt as to why the rivers have been slow to return to wadable levels: the mountain slopes are literally dripping, as if all the ground was one great spring head. And so I wait while this last month of the dry fly season withers.

As long as our Catskill summers last, I still regret their passing. Would that this glorious season lingered for half the year! And yet, October has always been my favorite.

A river’s gateway at October low water, when the afternoon sunlight washes it’s color wheel across the mountain sides.

Each morning I peruse the stream gages, hoping that a day has arrived when I can pack my waders, a reel and an old cane rod and depart. It seems an interminable amount of time has passed since my morning vigil brought good news.

It is warm this afternoon, and I can picture myself wading in the sunlight… the Beaverkill, perhaps the Delaware, scanning the wide river for signs of a rise. The sun is warm on my shoulders, as I spy a gentle disturbance along a shaded stretch of bank. The approach is calculated. I work into position, all the while keeping an eye toward the surface for some hint of the bit of food that caused that resting trout to stir.

The cast is long and smooth in the still air, and the loop unrolls to lay the fly delicately above my target. I have no need to see the fly. A rise, any rise will mark success.

The ring is gentle, there for just a moment then gone, but I raise the rod confidently and feel the power as a great fish churns the shallows to a boiling tempest! The fight covers the entire flat, my reel screaming with each run into my backing, but at last he is mine!

High water cannot keep me from dreaming.

A dream from the past that came true…

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