When you arrive at Rocky Ford two old geezers are eating their lunch on a rock you like to park beside. You find another place to park. Before you're wadered up, they're walking back down to the water--in the direction you like to go.
You hurry and follow them, but it's too late: one of them is already in your spot. So you seek out a different path through the cattails--hoping you won't slip into a pothole and never be heard of again--and come out on the water a hundred yards upstream of where you usually fish.
The available space for casting is very small, but the water looks good. There are mayflies in the air and on the surface, and fish are lazily taking them. You take one last look downstream where that old geezer is casting to your fish, then go to work.
You scrounged through some fly boxes the night before and found three little PMD comparadun patterns that you originally tied for the Henry's Fork. You cast one out and let it drift.
On the third cast the fly is drifting ten feet off the bank. A good fish calmly porpoises on it. Picture it in slow motion: big dark head comes up tucks down broad bent back rising displacing water sliding out of sight wide tail curling up waving disappearing in a swirl. You lift and set and you've got him.
The last you see of him he's heading for Spokane, and he's taking the fly with him. Wow. How did that happen?
You tie on the second PMD and fish it hard but get no more mythic takes. Eventually you lose the fly in the unfamiliar cattails behind you.
You check downstream yet again and see that the usurper has moved on. You make it safely back through the cattails and walk down more familiar paths to your favorite spot. The fish are right where you left them, and they're active.
You tie on the remaining PMD and give it a go, but the fish here aren't going for it. So you try your new soft hackles. They worked well on the last trip, but not so much this time. Such is the way of trout and flies.
You settle into your fishing, developing hypotheses and theories and testing them with a variety of flies and techniques. This is what you do, and you're happy.
All the time you're increasingly aware of the life around you. This was a frozen landscape when you first came in January. Now it's teeming with birds, insects, turtles, frogs, and muskrats. Once it was silent. Now the air is full of the songs and sounds of their busy lives. You feel privileged to have been here to see the miracle occurring.
It takes a long time, but you finally catch a fish. A fat humpy does the trick.
Then the humpy is ignored. So you go back to a yellow soft hackle. This time you put it under an indicator and sink it just a little. In short order the indicator dips and you have another fish. You feel like a genius.
Then the soft hackle goes cold. So does the afternoon as the wind picks up. You zip your jacket higher and go back to the humpy.
You can see the humpy in the riffles, and you enjoy drawing lines with it on the water's surface. Another fish can't resist it.
Evening is coming. You go to a pretty little stimulator, remembering the big fish that have come up out of nowhere to waylay big helpless flies. You get an immediate grab. You're sure it's a good fish, but you'll never know: it comes loose.
Back out it goes. A fish lunges for it, and this time you bring it to the net.
And again. The fish are definitely stirring, and they like this fly.
You want to fish it longer, but you snag it in the cattails behind you. You find it, break off the stems it's wrapped around, drop the stems--and then realize you also snapped the tippet and dropped the fly with the stems. Even with a light it's nigh on impossible to find a fly once you drop it down into the cattails.
Next fly tying assignment: tie up a couple more small, dark stimulators for just such a time as this.