The river was back last week--while I was gone. Now that I'm home it has gone bye bye again.
So I packed up and headed south to Rocky Ford Creek. The omnipresent clouds were draped over the ridges.
Up on the flats the road climbed right into them...
And then left them overhead again as it wended its way down the Grand Coulee toward my destination.
Rocky Ford was open for business. There were a few other fishermen, but not enough to constitute a crowd. Ducks were whistling by overhead, wrens were chattering in the cattails, and a male Marsh Hawk, ghostly white, flitted by. And yes, there it was, surprising but unmistakable: the chirring of red-winged blackbirds. The earliest I've ever heard them.
The fish were active, too. I began with a small muddler, and twice fish came up, nosed it, and refused it,
I tied on a peacock soft hackle. It took awhile, but I finally put it in front of a good fish working a little backwater between clumps of cattails. A slow retrieve enticed a solid take. I carefully worked it in.
This was a slab of a fish, hard to handle. I managed one photo before it muscled up and out of the net, and lay gasping on the ground. I tried to hold it in one hand and take a photo with the other, but I couldn't get my hand around its girth enough to control it. So I guided it into the water--with two hands--and watched it revive and swim away.
That's when I discovered that the soft hackle was gone, likely snapped off during the leap from the net. So I elected to go with a dry again. I tied on another muddler. I cast to areas where I saw fish moving or rising, kind of like trying to shoot fish in a barrel. Again it took awhile, but when I found the right fish, the take was immediate. Another fine Rainbow.
This too, was a strong fish, hard to handle. When I was releasing it I saw that the tippet was wrapped around it--too late. It bolted, taking the tippet and the fly with it.
That was it for a time. I continued to work on top, getting enough bumps and follows to keep me committed to dries. I lost a pretty little stimulator in the cattails, and tied on another one as daylight began to fade.
That was just the fly the third fish was looking for. It inhaled it, then began a long series of jumps. I played it while moving over to get the net. I was watching the fish tailwalk, trying to give it some slack, when I made a misstep and my right foot slid into the pothole behind me.
Before I could do anything half of me was in the pothole, and half of me was out. And the fish was still jumping. With every Rocky Ford fish I need to kneel down in the mud in order to reach it with my net, but this was beyond the pale.
I managed to climb out, covered with mud, and eventually netted the fish. Another beauty, not as big as the others but twice as acrobatic.
I released this fish and climbed back to my feet thinking that a long-handled net, like the ones I've seen other fishermen use here, would be a good investment. And perhaps an inner tube for around my waist.
By then it was dusk, an owl was hooting across the water, and I was done. I reeled in, gathered up my pack, and hiked back to the truck.
Soon I was rolling down the highway thinking about my fly fishing adventure and climbing into the clouds again.