Monday, May 4, 2009
Opening weekend and Hendrickson hatches have always had a special place in fishing the seasons of the trout calendar. Everything about Hendricksons speaks to fly rodding for trout or at least what I envision as fly rodding for trout. Trout will feed activity on all stages of the insect's life cycle. I have even caught fish using a size 22 egg sack pattern--a tiny ball of yellow dubbing! Some of my fondest memories of opening weekend have been because of these storied of mayflies.
This past weekend, with the wind howling down the river, E. subvaria (old school latin name) came off at about two in the afternoon despite the wind. Many of the duns skated on the surface like iceboats racing with the wind until they fluttered off lost in the gusts. The number of insects coming off would have made for a perfect hatch by fly fishing standards enough to keep the trout looking up but not too many to make imitation an impossible feat. Mysteries of the behavior trout won out again. With abundance of available fodder and no fish feeding--not on the bottom either, I could see them still and lock jawed--the hatch continued for an hour while I looked on. Some times it is better this way. Waiting in humble silence, contemplating in the moment, knowing full well that fortune is a harlot.... It was a beautiful day filled with blue sky and clouds and small flights of ducks and the occasional flash of a spooked fish or those that drove by to have a look. Most of it familiar yet it still refreshes the memory.
After the hatch let up and with just a few bugs popped off the river, I moved down stream to a run that is some times the haunt of other fly fishers. Some that I have known for years. I am of that age that I can say that and envision a good hand full of people. A few of whom have passed away. Their presence is still sensed there and at times I can hear them as they back cast or wade slowly to the next position closer to the feeding fish. The local cemetery is just a hundred yards away so I am sure there may be a few haunting this run even as you read this.
The remains of an old bridge still stands on either side of the run as I looked up river. As the river glided around the bend and narrowed in front of me I thought I could hear voices up stream. It happens to me a lot lately. Running water speaks its language, and I forget where I am and suddenly I am hearing conversations that took place years ago, but only in bits and pieces. I even mistake them for voices that I believe are actually speaking in the here and now but are masked from recognizing because the rush of water over rock confuses my hearing...or the voice gets muffled in a gust of wind.
There was a truck parked in the space where we all have parked our vehicles at this place. I stood looking up stream for awhile listening to the bits and piece of the conversations trying to recognize the voices. Then I heard it. The sound of a wading staff hitting a rock. Faintly at first then steady like an angler moving back down stream, wading through the run not fishing. The figure appeared at the top of the run, and I took him for the driver of the truck. I hoped that I would recognize him. He appeared ghost like in the shadows. "Well, it's all over they've come and gone. You 'miles well wait until dusk and see if there's a spinner fall," the shadow spoke in a loud and familiar voice. "Did you come with some one or are you by yourself?"
He stepped into the yellowing light of the afternoon sun and smiled. It was Dave, the fly tier, an old fishing friend. He said that it was his first time out, "Would you believe it?" He shook my hand with a familiar wry smile on his face and climbed the bank.
"I do," I said. "You're retired and don't have to pound the water like the rest of us on the weekend's"
"I gotta go to church. Michelle said I had to get out of the house for awhile," he added putting his rod down next to the truck. Dave is serious about his fly fishing and his Catholicism. "I've been retired nine years now and there isn't a retired person that I've met that doesn't pray." He paused and faced the river holding his hands above his head in praise, "Thanking God, for the time to do stuff like this. Opening weekend, for a few hours at least. I can go anytime, you know, but opening day..."
"Maybe there will be spinner fall."
"If the hatch has been on for a few days, it's possible and if the wind comes down. I gotta go," he replied
We chatted for a few more minutes about what we saw on the river and if we had seen or heard from any river people we knew. I didn't tell him about the voices I been hearing lately.
As he drove off, I thought about the possibility of fishing the spinner fall. I had heard voices in the water, then Dave appears. There are all sorts of emergences on the river. I let the spinner fall and fishing wait for another time, another opening day.
Keep tight line,