A flannel shirt covers me for the first time since April as I stepped out into the dark of this crisp August morning. The coolness of the summer season this year brings with it a curiosity as to whether the past damning winter ever fully let go of her grasp on things. At least, as they say, it's been good for the fishing. It has.
My last trip to this stream was in late July when the river seemed as "turned off" as I guess it might have been all season long. To see the stream top being slurped at by trout was refreshing this day. I decide to watch a good while before the boots hit the water. A gray slate sky hangs high above the trees. The odd brown leaf, another sign of things at the crest of change, blows down and sweeps by.
A decision. The Blue Winged Olive comes out of the fly box and I tie it on and quickly spook the nearest fish, one that I had spotted and watched from my perch, just by walking along the bank where the fish was feeding. So much for my stealth approach. I wade in and decide to cast at another trout in the middle of the stream. On the first drift the healthy sized trout fins up to my offering and then turns coldly. My heart skips then settles. Another decision; smaller fly. I waste no time in changing down a couple of sizes and the brown wastes no time in cooperating. One of those things I've learned along the way, changing the fly is mostly about size and not pattern, especially when the fish show interest. The take was aggressive, the reel peeled off instantly, and the short fits and high energy of the fight had me soaring with smiles and that kind of goofy laugh that fishermen have when all alone on a river and a trout on the line. Like the two of you are playing some kind of school yard game of tag together.
The next hour or so proves to me that my casting abilities are lacking. To what degree I am unsure. There are fishermen who can cast better and fishermen who cast worse but the fish that I didn't catch on this fine morning tell the real story to me. I swear I heard one fish say, "Seriously, man??" as I sloppily dragged a size 20 across his zone.
I did have a chance to dance with another nice fish, this time on an Elk Hair Caddis in the fast water. Again I produced a large attractor version of this fly only to find a fish that showed interest but darted back down. As soon as I changed to the small fly the trout nailed it. Fast water and small fish...I'll take it.
Things slowed. The time showing about 9:30 A.M. and the low sun now sheening off of the currents. The dimples of rises all but gone and I step out of the stream. Once again I find my perch above the stream and let the boots drip over the edge as I watch. The coolness of the breeze off of the water has my inner thoughts converging over to fall. This whole morning has been a sure sign that the edge of autumn is here.
Soon enough I will take my annual trip with a group of fly fishing misfits up to the hallowed town and waterways of Roscoe, NY. We will emerge ourselves into the orange hues of the world where that harsh but sweet chord with its earthen tone will marinate the fishing and camaraderie. Purple wafts of cigar smoke will wash with the smoke of the fire pit and the laughter. And that laughter will bellow into the dark where the last of the crickets will absorb the sound of it and of Neil Young's guitar.
Soon enough, I'll be fishing in A minor.