Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The eddy line where everything either gets swept under a low overhang of cedars or gets slammed by the whole of the main run taunted me from the moment I waded into the pool at 5:00 in the morning. I had cast into that magic suspension of currents, using at least three different strategies, for at least a half hour. Before you start accusing me of buggy whipping the hole, I'll say that at 5:00 in the morning its dark enough to cover most of my miscues (if any), and I gave pause enough for any beast to feel secure enough to venture forth.
The previous night I had held the canoe for a client in the press of the run so that he could skate a fly through the eddy line in hopes of moving a least one good fish. This place always holds good fish. However, it hasn’t produced anything for a number of seasons—not even a “drive-by," "how-are-you," or "No-I’m-not-interested.” I have reasoned over the years that when good spots stop producing, a big fish has taken over chasing out all rivals. This theory has shown some validity when big fish are caught from these previously quiet places. Usually big lake run browns. We worked the fly for a good half hour before we strung up the rod and headed down stream and into the night. So I returned after a few hours sleep to try and reconfirm the theory.
I stood and watched the eddy slowly push the foam up to the top of the eddy and then slowly swing it down along the undercut bank and back down to the end where it met enough of the push from the main current to start it cycling through again. Bemused by the movements of the river, I may have fallen sleep on my feet or somehow had one of those strange experiences where you find yourself loosing any sense of the passage of time. Driving to work comes to mind, where you discover yourself at work, but you’re hard pressed remembering the drive. A hot shower can spend time for me. What I thought was a few minutes turns into a cold shower wake-up.
The bump of a canoe hitting a rock at the top of the run brought me out of my trance. Surprised not by the canoe that was yet to make the turn into the final part of the run before the pool, but the sunlight pouring through an opening in the cedar canopy. What had been a dark, shadow-shrouded hole was now fully illuminated by the low angle of the sun reaching the over the top of the valley. Rocks, woody tangle and the sand spout of a bottom spring shown clearly. The shadow of the cedars had moved out into the run with the edge of the shadow hovering over the sweet spot of the eddy: the current break between the main thrust of water and the cycling turn of the eddy. How had I missed the transition from the nether world of the half-light before dawn to this? The canoe bumped another rock. I glanced up the run. As my head turned, I glimpsed, out of the corner of my vision, a large silver shadow dart down the eddy line, flash brightly through the sunspot on the bottom of the eddy and slide under the undercut and dissolve into the mystery of those velvet thoughts that are marked by the revolving question: Did I really see that? Or was that what I wanted to see?
I am pretty certain I said hello to the canoeists as they slipped by and rounded the next turn. The sound of the rapids rushed through my head for the whole of the trip back to the car. The rest of the day was bemused by the movement of water.
Keep a tight line,