On the fly: Rising at dusk
June 12, 2012
BASALT – There aren’t many things that will get my butt off the couch at the end of a long day, when the sun melts into the horizon and bugs swarm around the porch light, but lately, I’m moving into high gear as daylight wanes.
The evening fishing is suddenly hot, and it’s the river, not my pillow, that beckons.
For the past few weeks, I’d been sporadically testing the Roaring Fork River in the midvalley after dinner, always thinking the trout would finally rise to a caddis. I generally came up empty, even with a trailing nymph. A week ago, they started splashing at the dry fly, but I still caught no fish. It was as though they were interested, but not enough to commit.
Then, the browns started hitting my elk-hair caddis in earnest, acting on some instinctual impulse I can neither predict nor understand. I haven’t seen a lot of actual caddis flies on the river, but there are some fluttering in the cool air and dipping onto the water as if they run out of steam periodically. Inexplicably, the time is suddenly right.
I typically arrive too early and cast hopefully for 30 minutes before anything happens, giving me time to overthink my fly selection and squint helplessly into the blinding last rays of the sun before it dips into the trees.
But warm, summer evenings are the best time to stand in the shallows and wait for something to happen. There’s a pleasant smell that I can’t possibly describe, but it instantly triggers memories of fishing with my dad many years ago.
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As the sky grows progressively darker, the splashes of feeding trout have me casting every which way until I decide the fish are everywhere and I don’t need to target any one in particular. Nighthawks swoop recklessly through the air, and I feel the wings of one graze my fly rod.
I spy a large trout arcing out of the current and, a few casts later, net my only rainbow of the night, admiring its broad swath of deep, iridescent purple in the fading light.
Eventually, I’m fishing by sound and feel in the near darkness. It’s time to reluctantly call it a night.