It was chilly and overcast at home, but a hundred miles south it was sunny and warm. I tossed my jacket onto the cattails and fished the whole time--for the first time this year--in shirtsleeves.
Later, back at the truck, I would hear a phone message from my daughter in Indianapolis. They had been getting 8 more inches of snow during our lovely spring day. I extend my sympathies to her and all of you still stuck in winter.
Indy, March 25, 1013
I staked out my favorite spot, but ranged up and down the bank. This is a no-wading fishery, but walking the narrow muddy paths between the creek and the cattail slough sometimes feels like wading--or maybe like walking on water. I have slipped into a pothole twice this spring. Once it was just one leg, once it was full in up to my waist. You just can't tell by looking how deep these holes might be, and you get the feeling one of them could have your name on it.
The pelicans were basking and the swallows were flashing in the sun. Fish were coming up randomly and at long intervals, as they do. I worked a couple streamers and some bead head buggers and nymphs. It felt good to be stretching out those long casts without the constraints of a jacket and with the sun hot on my shoulders.
It wasn't big, but it was beautiful, and it was the first trout of Spring.
I fished my way back to my favorite spot, unfolded my funky lawn chair, and basked in the sun like a big old pelican. It was peaceful and calm. I watched the swallows and listened to the ducks and meadowlarks, and then I heard it. Frogs--spring peepers--just beginning to croak along the water's edges.
I also saw more and more midges swarming in the sun, and I thought I was seeing more fish coming up and sipping them off the surface. I decided to go dry. Or die.
I clipped the bead head off the 4X, and thought about tying on some 5X and going small. But I had been seeing individual Callibaetis all day, big, beautiful, and perfect, rising into the sun. So I tied on a big, bushy Callibaetis pattern. I figured it was worth a try if the fish were now looking up.
But I wasn't ready when, on the first cast, a fish immediately turned and came for it. I don't mean it "rose" to it. No, too tame. This fish came for it, a big bulge in the water pushing a wave ahead of it heading straight for the fly. You know, just like the Nautilus getting up to ramming speed in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
It goes without saying I panicked and set way too hard and way too early, and the fly ended up tangled in the cattails 30 feet behind me. I was able to retrieve it, and cast it out again. The fish were definitely on top now, and I got hits and swirls on a dead drift, and missed them all. At some point in my frenzy to get the fly back out there I whipped it off the tippet.
I tied on another Callibaetis pattern, and soon got another Nautilus take. It was so beautiful. This time the leader was straight and I was ready, and I came up on a very nice trout.
Very nice indeed, pushing 20 inches, I'd guess. More than that, it was the first trout caught on a dry this year.
This was more like it. This was fly fishing. I settled into the enjoyment of the hunt.
Just when things seemed to be slowing down another fish came up under the fly and took it, oh so delicately, like just a taste of dessert. But it was not a delicate fish. No, this was a big-shouldered brawler. Once I got him in I measured him with my hand span, and he went over 20 inches. I didn't know which of these two photos I liked best, so I'm using them both.
The sun was low on the horizon, I was at peace, and it seemed like a good place to put a bookmark in. So I packed up and hit the road with some daylight left.
At 8 o'clock there was still a rosy glow behind the Cascades way to the west as I made my run north. Thinking about the glorious afternoon, I knew all about rosy glows.