It seemed like a good plan: Do a little
work around the house, take the dog for a quick hunt, and then head
for the river. You didn't actually get much done at home, but you
flushed a couple of grouse with your dog and missed the one shot you
took. It was a fine autumn morning at any rate, and before long you'd
be standing in a river.
You hear the weather forecast on the truck
radio talk about the approaching cold front with possible frost and
notice the sky filling with clouds, but you're prepared with warm
clothes and raingear. You get to the river several hours before dark
and hike into a favorite spot. Steelhead and lake-run browns were
said to be in the river and you decided to test out a new sinktip
line swinging streamers. A couple years ago you'd landed a big brown
trout in this very hole, swinging a streamer and hoped to duplicate
that success. After working upstream to the tail of a big bend pool
you give up on the streamer and toss a little prince nymph into the
current. It was almost a surprise when the line goes tight but the
rainbow on the other end is even more surprised. The fish takes off
downstream going airborne with five big shaking leaps. Once in the
net you wondered how that tiny little fly stuck in the trout's top
lip could manage such a fish. And the fly falls right out before you
could unhook it!
It's time to head upstream for part two
of the day's plan. A big wide spot in the river, they call it a lake,
is rumored to hold large brown trout that feed at night and love big
mouse patterns. You park the truck as close as you can and lift your
canoe off. A rucksack is packed with PFD, canoe seat, net, and fly
box. Two paddles are jammed into the bow and you pull your headlamp
onto your hat before hoisting the works onto your shoulders. Then you
reach for the rod tube leaning on the truck and set it up in the bow.
The portage to the river is easy, thanks to the downhill trial and
anticipation of over-sized trout.
You're on the water just before dark
and pondering where those trout will be. No fish are rising but that
could change any minute. Will they be in the weeds? Out in the
channel? Or perhaps along the shoreline banks where you'd cast for
bass on a different river. You tie on your deerhair mouse before it's
too dark to see the tippet and start casting.
Maybe the fish are laying by those
rocks. Nothing. Ease to the shoreline but be careful not to overshoot
and hang your fly in the overhanging cedars and maples. The mouse
lands with a light plop and you can see it riding high. Twitch it.
Strip it. Darn, it grabbed some weeds.
It's full dark now. The only sound is
the breeze and your sailing fly line. You turn on you light to change
to a Morrish Mouse, one you tied for Alaskan rainbows, thinking a
lower riding fly will help. Flip the light switch off and everything
is black. Before your eyes can adjust, the canoe bumps a rock and
your heart jumps. Alone in a canoe, it's pitch black and you can't
see a thing. And there's no action from the fish. Trout season will
close on this water in a couple of days and you'd like to end with a bang, but
you're losing hope and without confidence you send your fly here and
there and wonder what the heck is going on.
It's downright chilly by now. The
breeze is bothersome, your back is sore, and there's a comfortable
restaurant a few miles away. Paddling along the shoreline you flip
the light on to find the landing and are startled by a lone angler
standing in the water. Doing any good? Nope, you? Nope. Damn cold