Deja Vu

Through the fog of memory – I have been here before…

Welcome June, the next rung in the ladder of the season lies before us. It should be utter madness, with drakes green and brown, sulfurs, isonychia, cornutas… but it isn’t. Looking more like the doldrums, I have begun to approach this spring fishing like it is summer.

The first step was a positive one. Catching a popular pool unmolested the other day, I slipped into the quiet water and started my search. Stalking, watching, intent upon subtle clues along the recesses of the calm surface. There, a movement, subtle and constrained, though clearly a sign of life.

I stalked that sign, moving slowly and carefully, taking advantage of the breeze whenever it ruffled the water. Sure enough, there was a little dimple in that hidden lie. Other than the omnipresent couple of bouncing caddisflies, the river betrayed no insect activity. Consistent with my revamped thinking, I knotted a small beetle rather than a juicy March Brown.

The cane rod delivered it gently once I waited for a moment between gusts of wind. One cast, two, and then my fly met that dimple. He fought me with vigor, darting and stripping line from the Bougle`, the reel’s protests shrill and exciting there in that moment of solitude. The beauty of the river, the sheltering forest, the trout and I captured the moment.

He was a fine specimen that brownie, thick flanked and belligerent when his quiet brunch was interrupted, still vigorous and golden as he thrashed in the clear meshes of the net. The forceps proved handy to grasp the small fly before returning him to the quiet of the pool. A blessed gift! Summer conditions, summer tactics, yes… I felt quite smug when I had stalked the next little obscure disturbance, and perhaps that was my mistake.

There was another dimple you see, but I failed to convert my subterfuge to arching cane and the shrill music of the Hardy click and pawl. He was no more inclined to sample this summer fare than the next one, and so my theory collapsed.

Here and there for the next hour or so, and on another reach of water the next day, and another the day after that there was nothing but the occasional cruiser. Wiggling bug syndrome is my name for the phenomena, when the general paucity of insects causes idle trout to suddenly rise hard just once, never to come again in that location. WBS has been the character of the rivers I haunt during recent weeks.

There is hope for refreshment this week, rumors of tailwater releases, even good, honest rainfall, but will it change the character of the hatches? We are fortunate that Memorial Day’s interlude of hot weather has been brief, and yes, cooler water can bring about an increase in mayfly activity. Still, this season seems all too familiar.

The early hatches were wonderful in 2021, with each successive species of mayfly becoming increasingly sparse and fleeting. By summer, it was rare to see more than a museum sample of the typical drift. I looked back to winter, and the low flows during its coldest duration. Sadly, that scenario was repeated: low flows, and the weather even colder for longer durations.

Nature is resilient, though the magic of her rebirthing powers takes time. She works on her own clock, not ours, and aging dry fly fishers can only mourn the loss of another season of those precious moments. The grand hatches of April, May and June, those that simply astound us, are indeed magical moments in a fly fisher’s life, and they become more rare as man’s manipulations bring damage and disarray to Nature’s miraculous canvas.

Forgive us our trespasses Mother, and shine your light upon our beautiful rivers that we may witness your grandeur!

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