Rituals

Morning dry flies, a little ritual that welcomes the fishing season. Little Black Stoneflies, crafted in hope, are perched on a cork in anticipation of the day.

I wandered along two rivers yesterday afternoon. The morning sun retreated, though the air temperature reached sixty degrees eventually, leaving me wondering what might have occurred if that sun had shone high and bright throughout.

Wading along the Delaware I saw the fledgling season’s first helicopter attack: a handful of Little Black Stoneflies buzzing low above the surface of the calm river. I was swinging flies of course, still in that winter mode as dictated by the forty-degree water. I had no takers, no bumps and rubbery tugs to be transformed into motion and excitement, but the sight of the little stones put a smile in my heart.

Wading out I finally saw an honest to God rise, actually two or three of them, though one just caught the corner of my eye. Judging the riseform – glad to be able to use that word again – and the type of water involved, I expected chubs more than trout. Since I had a North Country Spider knotted to my tippet, I did make a few casts, apologizing to myself and any divine entities overseeing my folly for my stubborn desires.

I know how unlikely it is that any significant trout would rise to those little flies there in the cold, flat current of the Delaware. Yes, perhaps if there were more than half a dozen of them over the course of a couple of hours of wandering, and perhaps if that sun had stayed out and warmed the surface two or three degrees… And yet, I had to begin my morning here, with fine thread, black dubbing, wild cdc feathers and a dun grizzly cape.

Tying morning dry flies is one of my little rituals you see, a simple act that stokes my enthusiasm and engenders hope for a touch of luck for the day. In truth, many tough fishing days have been saved with a fly tied that very morning! I have a couple of boxes full of early stoneflies, relics from my years along Maryland and Pennsylvania trout waters. In those warmer climes, the stones would often be the catalysts for the first dry fly fishing of the season. Little black stones skittering across the gentle pools of Gunpowder Falls, and the blacks and early browns bringing good trout splashing to the surface on Big Spring on a bright March afternoon, brought many smiles to my face.

I could tell you that it was simply more practical to tie those three little flies and drop them in a handy pill bottle, rather than moving a bunch of stuff and digging through the storage box that houses my many fly boxes to find those existing stoneflies. The fact is, I would rather practice my little ritual and try to seal a bit of luck for the afternoon!

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