Finally a chance to get back to Rocky Ford. But things keep coming up to do before I can get away. Leave later than I wanted to. Get to creekside with maybe two and a half hours to fish. Got to make it count.
Trip is worth it, though. Much brighter and warmer down here in the southlands. And I'm fishing. Go right to work with the Callibaetis dries. Sort of Callibaetis. Maybe the word is Callibaetish. Get follows, bumps, swirls--no takes. The old story. Keep at it, though.
Except I do lose faith for a moment. Screw on an indicator and hang a nymph under it. Get one pull. Try a different nymph. No pulls. Go back to the Callibaetish. Same story. Bask in a brief outpouring of sunshine. Nice.
The mouse is burning a hole in my vest pocket. Finally, at dusk, I tie it on. Plop it out there. Get an immediate swirl, follow, swirl. Encouraging. Keep at it. More attention. Then I hook a fish--here we go.... No. It's off. Small. So far so good.
Now it's almost dark. I'm casting the mouse out and stripping it in briskly. Going for wet and panicked. The breeze picks up. I can barely see the mouse in the riffles. I give it a wake. I can follow the wake. I get a swirl....strip, strip, strip....another swirl....strip, strip, strip....WHOOM!
It's all happening at once: a hard yank, a heavy splash, a snap, line pelting my chest and whistling past my ears. Silence. Fish gone. Big fish gone. Something whacked me in the leg. The mouse? I feel my way to the end of the leader: the 4X tippet is gone. So is the mouse. Rest in peace, mouse.
I grab the first muddler I can feel on my fly patch and tie it on. Have to use precious time to get the headlamp. Flip the muddler out. Can't see it. Just strip and wait to feel something. A smaller explosion: a fish leaps rapidly downstream: one, two three--five jumps before I can turn him. It's not big, just pissed off. I get it in the net. It's a bloody mess. Don't think I did that. Mice? I tip the net. Fish slashes away into the night.
Tell your daddy, or your big brother. I'm tying up another mouse or two. Buying some extra-stout tippet material. Putting new batteries in the headlamp. Going to come back and stay awhile.