The tinny sound of the local A.M. sports talk radio clashed with the calm of the morning as the tarnished Nissan bolted up the Saw Mill River Parkway. With a sip of my coffee and a twist of the knob all was quiet again. The sun cast it's first light of pink haze under the soft belly of the bulbous clouds. The Train station platforms that could be spotted along the way through the fading green leaves of the roadside were strewn with ties and stiff collars. Those suckers were not as fortunate as I. Good for me. After all, someones got to be "gone fishin".
The stream was empty but for one car whose inhabitant I never did see. Another fortunate soul who was able to find some solitude. As for me, I'd have plenty of company. Just not sure if they knew I was invited.
The air was crisp and clean. The water ran clear. It was one of those outings where the comfort of a well worn flannel under the vest made for a good choice. Fall fishing is here.
I decided to fish the old rod this morning as I hadn't since back in June or early July. Each time I've fished in recent months I've felt a little badly for the old guy. He just sits there curiously peering at me while I string up the new rod which I methodically take out of it's well groomed case and delicately slot the four pieces together like I'm handling fine art. I never treated the two piece this way. Honestly he just bangs around the trunk of the maroon shitbox, still strewn with a leader and fly 90 percent of the time, placed only carefully enough to survive. He's a "grab 'n go" type of guy and today felt like that kind of day.
I figured I'd start in the "Bathtub" as it usually has an angler or two in it and I haven't fished it in a while. It proved to be a good choice and, to my surprise, there were consistent rises and swirls all around me fairly soon. It didn't take long for me to notice the Caddis flies lofting about and I was enamored at the prospect of fishing the dry fly. The flies were mostly tiny but now and then I'd see a nice sized bug twittering off of the water. I tied on a size 16 or so and had immediate attention. I must admit that this was the kind of attention that an eight year old kid gives Lima beans. They are there on his plate. He sniffs them, pokes them, might even touch one to his tongue, but he is not going to eat it. Fair enough, I thought. Perhaps it is my presentation. A handful of refusals later and I lengthen the leader. Tied on another three feet of 6x tippet and put the 16 back on. Same result. I cut it off and put a size 18 on, although it was a little paler than that of the Elk Hair tan color. Again, Lima beans. Shoot. I clipped the wings back a bit, shorten the hairs. That ought to do it. At this point I am seeing flashes of gold five feet in front of me in the perfect current between the seams. The fish are active. There are three fish that I am consistently casting to who rise every minute or so in the same spot who have been sniffing and whiffing at my every offering. The one closest to me I believe to be a Rainbow. The others seem to be larger Browns. I am consumed by this game. I'm at the party, folks, but no one is letting me in the door.
I look back in the small fly box. It is there and it has been there since I began this lunacy of changing flies to refusals (there were a couple sizes of Blue Winged Olives that I tried as well with similar results). The beauty of it is that it is a size 20 Elk Hair Caddis. This is what they are feasting on. The shame of it is that I only have one and it is no less than twenty five years old. The hook is rusty, the eye is rusty, and it is the only thing that will get this damn kid to eat his veggies. I tie a clinch knot and it snaps. Once. Twice. Three times. The eye of the hook must be jagged. I swear a few times. I try to clean it, smooth it. I tie again. It's on. It ain't pretty but it's on. If a fish takes it, it most likely will not hold. My day will be over.
I false cast three or four times to present this rusted artifact to the closest trout, the Bow. The fish that seems to have given me the "fin" more than the others. I need the perfect drift. I hold my breath. He inspects. Wham! Fish on!
Fish off. Fly gone.
That's about how that went.
The bad news is that I didn't take the fish.
Good news is that I knew what they wanted and, after some time, figured out how to join the party.
That, and I wasn't standing on a train platform.
Happy fall fishing to all and tight lines.