Sixty Forty

November Sunlight

Those words do not represent the odds of any particular success. In fact they refer to Nature’s prescription for this coming November day. Sixty degree temperatures, combined with a moderate breeze, invite the angler to an enjoyable day on the water, whatever the season. Forty degree water temperatures however, do not make me giddy with prospects for success.

But what is success in the outdoors? Is it only measured by fish caught or game bagged? I am not so callous, so jaded as to believe that is true. Life in the outdoors means much more, and after waking to a run of days with early sub-freezing temperatures, sixty degree sunshine sounds like a wonderful gift to me.

I would love to find a bit of magic this afternoon, to witness the glint of tiny wings above the surface of a bright pool and then to scan for the dimple of a trout’s rise… and smile. Experience convinces me that will not be the kind of magic I encounter, though magic lies beneath that sparkling surface to be revealed in Nature’s own time.

In practical terms, I am debating whether to carry my mini tip fly line, a little used tool to swing a bucktail or a hairwing streamer down among the boulders and crevices of the river – the places trout lie in forty degree water. I have owned that line for something like thirty years, and it is virtually brand new. You see I am a dry fly fisherman, and though long ago I fished all types of flies as conditions dictated, I choose over the course of these many years to fish the way I most enjoy.

There is a difference in my life now. Retirement has freed me from the encumbrances of daily life and offered the great gift of time to spend as I choose. No more do I click to another’s schedule, toiling indoors while the sun shines mockingly through a window. My time, however much of it remains to me, is now my own. For countless years I have chosen to spend my time along rivers.

The Foxy Brown Hairwing, a November fly, born of hope.

I have walked many miles along these rivers of my heart in autumn and in winter, and I have yet to find the magic of the dry fly once fair October has passed into memory. My heart still urges me to carry a bamboo fly rod during these journeys, for there is always a chance, and so I find it easy to ignore the practical side of fishing deep by lobbing all manner of weight about those bright rivers. In low water a classic bucktail or streamer may be sunk enough to pass close to a trout hunkered among the boulders, but this is not a year for low water. Thus the mini tip continues to knock at the door of my consciousness.

As a fly designer, I am always experimenting and testing ideas and patterns and I do like to give them a fair opportunity to interest a trout. Swinging rapidly past several feet above a fish’s lie is not a fair test of a trout fly, not in forty degree water. Certainly I know that anything can happen on a trout river, but it would require much more disparate numbers than those titled above to express that likelihood.

Should I chose to carry that mini tip line, there will be an extra reel spool in my vest, one adorned with the floating line required to take advantage of those incomprehensibly rare moments when Nature’s special magic defies all logic and experience. Though my mind leads me to a state of confidence that I will not need that floating line, nor the box of dry flies tucked away in my vest, my heart still believes. May it always be so!

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