You wend your way through the glacial rubble back down to Rocky Ford Creek.
It's another springy day on the spring creek. There are fish moving. The mouse is still on the line from last time, so you launch it out there where you saw some wakes converging.
A fish is on it instantly. It follows it all the way in. You flip it out again, sure that fish is still looking up, and get ready. This time, after a single strip, the fish whacks it. You set and it's hooked. It's just as you pictured it, except for the size of the fish. This isn't a big old trout, but it's a scrappy youngster who knows how to jump. And you do enjoy seeing that mouse hanging from its jaw.
You're the mouseman now, so you work it some more. But apparently that was the only trout at the moment willing to tackle a mouse. Way to go, fish. You clip the mouse off and stick it on your fly patch for later. You affix an indicator and begin to work the depths.
That's fun for awhile. You miss some tugs, and lose some hookups, but bring one in on a little san juan worm.
Time for a change of pace. There are more surface takes going on now, so you go on top with a light caddis. The fish take notice right away, and you get follows, but you have to work a little to coax a take. Another jumper. Not all the fish jump here, but the ones that do jump like crazy.
You get another good fish to take the caddis, but after a brief confrontation it gets off.
You switch the sodden caddis for a pretty little stimulator. It gets a quick take, a little fish that sucks it in on a twitchy strip.
You cast the stimulator out again, and, for some reason, let it sit. It's riding high out there, moving ever so slowly with the current, when a fish rises head and shoulders out of the water and calmly engulfs it. One of the prettiest dry fly takes you've ever witnessed. You wait just the right split of a second, raise the rod, and you've got a hookup.
It takes a few minutes, but you finally bring it close enough to lead it into the net. It takes another few breathless moments for it to stop thrashing and settle down into the basket. You just look at it for a moment. This is one of those long and strong twenty-plus Rocky Ford beauties that make all the miles and all the casts more than worthwhile.
You watch it swim away and know that this has been another one of those moments that define your fly fishing life, when everything comes together and the world makes sense. You stand for awhile and try to make the feeling last.
It's evening all of a sudden, and there's only one thing left to do. You tie the mouse back on and begin to work it. You stay until dark again. You get some follows--one fish leaves a chain of rings ten feet long as it bumps it over and over--but no takes.
But that's OK. You're still smiling about that last fish.