My boots crunched upon the shore ice as I crept into the river, sending a small wave radiating across the wide flat before me. The midday sun lit the entire riverbed in such clear, low flow, and I watched for any sign of life retreating from my intrusion. I waded slowly and, attaining a reasonable distance from the brush along the riverbank, shook the fly line from my rod tip in tight coils. Too long on the reel, yes, much too long.
I began with a small soft hackle, a North Country fly that has drawn my fascination of late, my heavily substituted rendition of the Waterhen Bloa. Resting there in the crystalline flow it danced with points of light and made me smile. It was a wonderful sensation, feeling the soft flex of the bamboo once more, watching the line unfurl in the air and the fly alight forty feet away. The river bade me welcome as I bowed my head in thanks.
Two months is far too long for an angler to be kept from bright water.
Those few hours were a balm to my soul, the quiet of the river and the warmth of the sun healed much of the pains of this frigid season. There was hope for a rise as the river warmed, there always is, at least in my heart. I was truly alone on the flats and could not shake the feeling that the trout would not lie here in such low flow. I cast near the prominent obstructions, rock and log alike, but no hint of movement was betrayed.
At last, I walked down to the riffle below and waded slowly toward the deepest slot of current. I swung the Bloa, a Partridge & Pheasant Tail, even a pair of streamers without a grab, all the while walking down. The sun was already dropping toward the southwest by three o’clock, and at last the breeze arose, biting with it’s chill.
Standing there, gazing into the glare I saw it, the unmistakable evidence of life – a trout’s rise. By the time I had changed to a 6X tippet and tiny olive dry fly there was another, this time just a soft disturbance momentarily countering the current: a bold hello, and a shy goodbye. As if by design the wind increased just then, even as I tried to cast that little dry fly gently to that rise, the Red Gods speaking clearly: not yet…