On the fly: Back in the flow
July 28, 2011
BASALT – With the rivers finally running low and clear, and an unexpected absence of threatening weather, my fishing season has finally commenced.
Better late than never could describe both my summer thus far and tardy efforts to set the hook on trout that slam an elk-hair caddis in the waning light. Of course, the two margaritas I have with a friend over dinner beforehand could also be to blame for my ineptitude. There’s nothing like fine-tuning one’s motor skills with tequila. I’m lucky I’m not falling in the water.
The evening is already well along when I call a friend and ask permission to fish behind her house, on the Roaring Fork. In a side channel I have to wade to reach the main river, I hook a brown trout, my waders, my finger and a tree in short order. Only the trout slips off without a struggle, and I know the thrill of that wriggling weight at the end of my line for only seconds.
The main river is still moving swiftly, but there was room to fish near the bank. A nice-sized rainbow charges unnecessarily out of the water to gulp my caddis, then snaps the line. It jumps out the water three more times, apparently as annoyed as I about the fly that is undoubtedly still stuck in its lip.
I feel pretty badly about it actually, and hope it throws the barbless hook quickly.
Several missed opportunities later, with my caddis getting tough to spot in the fading light, I let my mind wander, taking in the old, familiar feel of the current pressing against my legs, and the sound and smell of approaching nightfall on the river. It feels right, conjuring up memories that are nearly as old as I am. I learned to fly fish on this river.
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Then a rainbow, 10 inches or so of feisty iridescence, smacks my fly, splashing silver against the dark water. I reel the fish in quickly, release it and turn to head for home.
In the morning, my pillow smells faintly of mosquito repellent. That, too, feels right.