Friday, July 26, 2019
Sitting in a canoe in the dark can raise that eerie kind of excitement that sends a shiver down your spine, especially when you're looking back over your shoulder and your partner gives the boat a little rock making his cast. Muscles tighten on instinct before the brain says relax, man, relax. Black water melts into the wooded shoreline and finally into a sky where only a few stars peek between the clouds. Twenty minutes earlier, when the sky was dark gray and you could still distinguish the shoreline from the river, the whippoorwills started calling and the big hex mayflies began appearing. And the trout started rising! I couldn't think of a better place to be. The trout we caught weren't the out-sized browns we'd hoped for – the kind you see photos of other night-time anglers posing in the flash of a camera – but being on that still water in the midst of fish gulping noisily all around is something to be part of. Night fishing is not something I'll do a lot of, but it's something I'll do again.
Part of last winter was spent experimenting with different materials for my bass poppers. I enjoyed carving some from wood; cedar and willow that I picked from the woods around my house. I've had some luck with them as well as the bigger Gurgler style foam poppers I tied, but day in and day out the deerhair poppers and divers have been the way to go. It could be a matter of faith, I suppose – after the task of spinning, stacking, and trimming it's easy to hold a newly tied popper up and say, “this will get 'em!”
There've been the chances to soak some of those poppers too, and some fine fish have been landed by companions and myself. The last drift boat trip on a beautful river proved one of my oldest, faded, and beat up deer patterns to be the hot fly. Enough so that I tied a new one of the same color and trim job the next day.
I can't go fishing all the time, but hanging around home can be pretty entertaining, too. A number of deer with fawns prance through the yard almost daily and the summer songbirds are fun to see and hear. We were visited by an Indigo Bunting and Mourning Dove at our feeder, rare sights for these parts. Several species of ducks have dropped into the pond and although black bears are not uncommon they usually wait until dark before showing up, but not always.
There's a little trout stream north of here that's not all that easy to get to, but catching a few brookies on a Dark River dry fly makes it worth the effort. Summer is short so I hope you get the chance to soak some flies for yourself. Like an old friend often says, “It's a good life if you can take the pace.”