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It was in the seventies down in the valley on Friday, but when I arrived at Trout Lake in the late afternoon it was overcast, and a wind--well-refrigerated as it swept across the snowy ridges and peaks--was blowing steadily.
So it goes. It's still warmer than Steelheading in January. And I had some new flies, and a new rod.
Well, not really new; I've had it for probably ten years, but I haven't fished it for at least five. Long ago, after fishing for most of a hot, steamy night on the Pere Marquette, I cracked one of the sections trying to loosen it from the ferrule. Not a big crack, but enough to cause me to lose confidence in it. I put it away intending to get it fixed...and then other rods came into my life and I never got around to it.
Until this week. The more I looked at the crack the more insignificant it seemed, so I fixed it myself with a liberal application of super glue, topped off with a couple coats of clear nail polish. It was very nice to fish it again after all these years.
As you can see, it's a heavier rod than the 4 wt. I've been using. There have been times when that lighter rod has felt overmatched by big flies and indicator rigs, especially when casting in a wind like today. The Imperial's butt section is like a club, but the upper sections are nice and whippy. It seemed perfect for my work today.
And it did turn out to be work. I started out with an indicator and a whole series of flies, but even though the fish were splashing here and there and launching themselves out of the water now and then, I got no nibbles on my nymphs.
I went into trolling mode. I would have done so sooner except for three guys in a boat who trolled over with their flashers and wedding rings and what not and started doing circles around me, cutting in between me and the bank every time. That put them very close to me. Too close. I always think that these guys should be able to figure out for themselves that if I can cast into their damn boat, they're too close. They never do figure it out, though. I guess one of these days I'll just have to show them.
They finally left and I trolled...and trolled, and trolled, and trolled. I got my exercise today. I got nothing on that new green bead head emu bugger, but I did get a bump on the clear bead bugger. I had fun trying a variety of flies, including some streamers that haven't seen the light of day in awhile. But, I admit it, I was getting concerned.
Just this week I foolishly said to a friend--out loud--that so far this Spring I hadn't been skunked. So, naturally, I was beginning to think that the jinx was on big time.
I finally tied on a cone head purple bugger. Maybe it got down a little more and found the zone. However it happened, I caught a fish.
I worked that bugger some more, but caught nothing else for a long while. So I went back to the clear bead bugger that I had tied up this morning, and finally, just as it was getting too dark for a good photo, I caught another one. Identical size, identical hook placement.
By then I was tired from all the paddling. And it takes it out of you to be beating against the wind--and to be beaten by the wind--hour after hour. So I began to paddle for shore. But then, as the light faded away, so did the wind, and the lake became glassy smooth. I saw a bat flit by for the first time this year. A few frogs began croaking tentatively along the shoreline. I got a good pull on the bead head leech I was trolling.
So I stayed until dark. There were no more fish, but the calm of the coming night, and the tiny flicker of a campfire deep in the immensity of the universe (can you see it?), put everything in perspective and brought closure to what was another good day on the lake.