A Four-Inch Trout and Other Impressions

Morning on the river…

Ah the pitfalls of the frantic search for truth; or at least rising trout…

I passed a milestone this week, had it all planned: alone at my sanctuary, the river quite cool with enough cloud cover to bring on a variety of hatches, my favorite rod with an olde English reel and perfectly tied flies to cover all of the possibilities. As on so many days this spring, plans found a way of going awry.

The solitude did my soul some good, though it would have been a grand gesture had Mother Nature provided a bit of her more palpable magic. She saw fit however to limit her offerings rather severely in light of the occasion. Very few flies were about, just a couple of little caddisfles now and then, sparse pickings insufficient to interest the trout, at least the adult denizens of the area.

Reading riseforms can tell you a lot, and the few I witnessed told me that the young of the year were about. I proved it to myself with a few tentative casts, as well as my catch of the day: a beautifully formed and colored four-inch brown trout. In truth there was another brief display. Walking slowly amid the low water reaches of the river I spotted a quick slurp, audibly the work of a substantial trout. The occurrence was so brief, and my attempts to make good of it so hampered by the gusting wind that it is hard to categorize. There may have been a pair of fish, moving, and if I was pressed to pin down their targets, I would suggest a few stray March Brown nymphs.

The water was cooler than seasonally appropriate, and I had seen perhaps half a dozen duns at distance during the course of the afternoon, none of which had been eaten. The events had all the earmarks of a rapid-fire search and destroy mission on behalf of the advance guard of the Salmo Trutta brigade, and by the time the gusts calmed enough for me to make a cast, it was over, and not to be repeated.

My fishing luck seems to be in a down cycle this spring, perhaps Nature’s inevitable kharma after so magnificent a season in 2021. The day before this celebratory odyssey I had fished long and hard, managing to bring one of this season’s rare large brownies to hand on a Translucense Series spinner. A bit of fishing transpired with that afternoon spinner fall – who says they don’t happen on windy days?

During that sequence, my fly sunk and was apparently taken below, there being no motion in the shallow water to indicate the take until I noticed my tippet wasn’t following my leader downstream. I tightened, felt the heavy pull of a substantial trout, and got my fly back almost instantly. The next dimple to draw my attention sucked down my imitation in a classic sipping rise, with the same result. Two large trout that should have been taken and gently released, with neither of them having to expend the energy for a fight. Such is fishing.

The classic Wheatley fly box seems appropriate company for my five weight Paradigm adorned with a vintage Hardy Perfect that has been around as long as I have, and doubtlessly fishing longer.

A good friend has cancelled his plans for a visit due to the lack of mayflies and rising trout and a truly unfriendly weather forecast for this Memorial Day weekend. Another has had his doctor extend an already prolonged hands-off-the fly-rod period due to injury. A blessing perhaps in that the fishing they will be missing has been anything but remarkable. Too bad though, as the general lack of insects and rising trout create opportunities for memorable long bankside discussions as to why we aren’t catching trout. A third has decided that he will arrive next week for his typical four-day stand, despite my lackluster reports. I notice that hot weather will be returning to greet him, not the best indicator for enhanced trout activity.

Though our weather has had only one brief hot spell, and otherwise been rather pleasant if you don’t mind the wind, water conditions have reminded me more than once of summer. Perhaps it is time to ignore the calendar and shift my tactics to summer fishing. I believe I will spend some time here at the vise and see what I can come up with…

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