The day was filled with change. The clouds moved through quickly with bursts of sun here and there, yet no wind. Not typical. The recent pattern lately for the March brown emergence was like clockwork, bankers hours. The regularity was so predictable that an alarm clock could be set two days in advance. Kinda eerie. I felt a spattering of rain as I sat and waited for the ring of the alarm. Behind me was a rookery of herons. This prehistoric bird is both awkward and graceful in the same sentence. The brood gawked and I watched for bugs.
Reflection is often intense when time stands still. Right then I remembered asking my parents tirelessly about the possibility of fish in every stream we crossed while traveling in my family’s red station wagon. I even had visions of “my pole” rocking up and down from the swells of the pacific while fixed to the gunnels of the “mars.click,” grandpa’s boat. I remembered the back pack I put Kelsey in when she and I went fishing – and Justin looking up at me when he realized what a “Knuckle buster” was for the first time.
Sitting on a log near the river I could feel the temperature rise. I wondered what it was that brought me here. Was it the hunt, or was it the complete focus that fishing required of my senses? Or was it simply just being there? I couldn’t definitively answer the question, yet I was there. The spiders were busy scurrying about on the rocks, red ants too. A horse in a nearby pasture whinnied and instantly the river was like a freeway.
First there were single lanes of bugs. Then two, three and more. Both blue wings and march browns. For about 10 minutes not one trout showed. It is a bit humbling when an angler realizes that the trout’s feeding patterns are for their survival and not merely for the angler. At that point I realized why I was there – the interaction – to witness what God created and in some way be a part of it.
The first fish rose only 8 feet from my boots in about 10 inches of water. It was a sip and in guide like fashion I unleashed my comparadun from it’s keeper and I made a reach cast from my fanny. What followed next was both beautiful and real. A refusal. A refusal like no other I have seen, as I literally looked into the eye of this fish.
I made no other casts that day as I chose to just watch from that point on. The March browns came in waves and the fish responded accordingly. The strength of the waves would last about 5-10 minutes and there were about seven strong showings. All-in-all, about 45 minutes of fairly intense activity.
The insects continued to hatch after that period and the trout continued to respond, but the fury of the hatch was significantly lighter. From this point on, the trout actually focused more on the blue wings – a desert like morsel – leisurely tipping up here and there for an “after dinner mint.”
I stood up and felt my foot tingle a bit as it had been in the same position for nearly 2 hours. The fly I had cast to that first rise was tucked away in my box and I was ready to leave the river. I went home and gave my kids a big hug and ate some dinner. It was a beautiful day.