On the Fly: One magic fly | AspenTimes.com
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On the Fly: One magic fly

One fly. One angler. One memorable day.Most days on the river run together in my memory like the swirl of sediment in the swollen Roaring Fork these days. I catch some, I miss some or I catch nothing under a perfect blue sky, or a dismal gray one. The variables don’t change all that much.But on rare occasion, almost always when I fish alone, the unforgettable happens. Typically, this takes the form of an unusually great day of fishing – the kind that produces a strike in every hole or trout, stacked like cordwood in some deep pool, that continue to strike even after I’ve caught and released a half-dozen or more of their fat, feisty companions.These are the days I remember as I wait out winter’s snows or, at this time of year, when the spring torrent overtakes my favorite spots and I’m forced to wait for calmer water.I had already written off the muddy Roaring Fork River until sometime in June, when a prolonged cold snap that produced snowfall in Aspen nearly two weeks ago slowed the river and, for a couple of days in the middle of last week, left it clear enough to fish after the days had warmed back into the comfortable range.I escaped for a couple of midday hours and found myself alone on the river – a treat in itself, given the growing angling pressure in this valley. The solitude alone was enough to make my day. With equal numbers of caddis flies and blue-wing olives flitting about, and no visible sign of trout hitting the surface, I picked out a fat elk-hair caddis and trailed a buckskin caddis behind it. Thirty minutes later, I had nothing to show for my efforts. I was about to switch to a blue-wing olive pattern when I missed a strike on the dry fly. Then I missed the same fish again.Brown trout were suddenly rising to that big dry caddis. I quickly chucked the buckskin and kept on fishing. I purposely lost count of the day’s catch when, after netting a half-dozen browns and missing a couple of others, it occurred to me that tallying the trout wasn’t what it was all about.Here’s what I do remember – the fly. I never lost it, and it kept working even after the repeated strikes had begun to mangle it. I was careful to pluck it off river rocks if it happened to get stuck on the green slime coating the boulders, and I took pains to retrieve if from a couple of willows along the bank. Hell, I’d have climbed a tree for that fly. It was working magic.It will be weeks before that stretch of river is fishable again. In the meantime, I’ve still got that beat-up fly tied to the end of my leader as a reminder of a memorable day. As if I need a reminder.


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