Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday Fishing Report: Only God can make a Hailstorm

Maybe I shouldn't have said "hailstorm" when I was talking about the grasshoppers.
I tied up a couple of revised hopper patterns this afternoon. I went all fancy with them. I was eager to try them out so I got away for the evening.
We had a good rain with some thunder and lightning all day yesterday. The weather report today called for isolated thunderstorms. I guess the lake qualifies as "isolated." Clouds were rolling in as I started fishing.
I had a near miss from a trout and was just getting serious with him when the wind picked up, thunder rumbled, and big drops of rain began to fall. I backed into the willows and put on my rainjacket and settled in to watch the show. There was some lightning and thunder, but not as much as I expected. This storm had another surprise in store.
It began with a heavy rain.
It then moved quickly to the main event: hail.

I have to say, getting the shot sometimes involves pain. Those hailstones hurt when they whack you on the knuckles. When I didn't have the camera out I had my arms folded with my hands tucked in my armpits.
But it was well worth it.
The storm rumbled away to the south and I paddled back out into a lake littered with leaves stripped off by the hail.
I picked up right where I had left off. I don't know if this was the same fish I missed earler, but he was in the same area and he came right to the fly.
But then things got slow. Maybe it was the rain and hail, but all activity on the part of the trout seemed to have stopped. I worked a lot of bank without any sign that anyone was paying attention.
Except these geese. These are the goslings of a few weeks ago, now old enough to get their learner's permit.
There was a hatch again down at the far south end, and this mayfly was coming off in increasing numbers. I think it's the Speckled Quill.
It took awhile for the trout to begin to rise in any numbers, but they finally did. I caught a Rainbow on a small Adams, but again it jumped out of my hand when I was taking it out of the net and got away without a picture.
There was an interesting footnote to the evening. There had been a couple of good cracking thunderclaps to the north, and it wasn't long after the storm passed that I heard a helicopter off in that direction.
Yesterday I had watched a storm with spectacular lightning roll through. Afterward, as I drove through the area it had passed, I saw smoke rising from a spot up on the ridge, an apparent lightning strike. I was getting ready to call someone to report it when a Forest Service helicopter roared by. They seem to keep close tabs on these storms.
So this evening I heard the helicopter coming in my direction. The ridges and mountains began to pick up and amplify and echo the sound of its rotors. Then it came around a bend, flying low right over the lake as it threaded the valley south.
I have to say it was impressive as hell. The pictures don't do it justice. It seemed to fill the valley when it passed over. The sound of it certainly did.
Maybe it's a good sign: the most impressive things we humans are capable of are still dwarfed by the natural world. We can make helicopters, and make them real loud.
But only God can make a trout--or a hailstorm.

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