Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quick Sips: Vignettes Edition

Sitting in my office. Zipping down the highway on the long commute home. In those quiet moments that happen each day despite the chaos of life, I find a couple of images of last weekend's fishing swirling in my brain. They're details that didn't make it into the fishing report and perhaps they should have.
  • Unhooked: The first fish that I brought to the net was a fat Brown, maybe fourteen inches. A respectable fish though not particularly memorable except for how he came to the net. The trout fought better than its size with plenty of surging back and forth and pulling a bit of line. It was all that you'd like from the experience. The trout's head is up and I'm dragging him across the surface trying to net him as quickly as possible. I was using a new net and couldn't get it unhooked. At the same time I turn to look at the net's clasp, the trout surges. The tension on the rod releases and then jerks heavily. Now the fish is coming towards me tail first. Apparently he shook the hook and then his tail met the dropper. Foul hooked or do I get credit for the first half of the fight?
  • Please, God, not the eye!: I'm not squeamish about our sport. It's a blood sport and I get that we sometimes cause some damage to our quarry (and ourselves). Acceptable and understood. Ideally you keep the ones that won't make it and put 'em on the grill. When the large Rainbow was close to the net it looked like I had hooked the fish square in the eye. The Wooley Bugger was angled from his cheek across to his eye. When he was in the net close inspection revealed he was hooked in the upper jaw and the shank just ran back across his eye. It would have been a shame if things were otherwise as I was in a C&R section of the river and this trout deserved to fight another day (and hopefully make little trout). Phew!
  • Wait a minute....: I spend much of my time fishing small streams for small gems. When I return to the rivers and connect to a big fish it can be a surreal experience. For example, I was about a minute into the fight with the Brown and I realized that I hadn't seem my strike indicator since the fight began. In fact I was not to see it for another few minutes. Not only was it not on the surface, it's not even visible below the surface. Fully three feet of leader and another foot of fly line have disappeared into the murk. It's these little things that make you smile and laugh that giddy laugh when you're doing what you love and the trout have come out to play.
  • Dying Day -- The walk downstream to the car was at a brisk pace. Good fishing gives you a lightness that makes the going easier. It was also one of those rare moments where I hadn't squeezed the last bit of daylight out of the trip. I could actually see the rough path and the obstacles in my way. As I walked, I was torn as to whether I should check some dry fly water for rises or turn south towards home. I got as far as the car door before I made the call to head back to the water.

    Sitting on the bank I was close enough to the riffle to hear its music but not so close that the noise crowded out other thoughts. The air was still and at that perfect temperature and dewyness where you could just feel it lightly touching your skin. I thought to roll down my sleeves against the impending evening but instead enjoyed just a few more moments of its embrace.

    Upstream the river took a shallow turn and framed a piece of northern sky. In that frame, horsetail wisps of gray and purple cloud caught the sideways glow of the sun setting well below the hill's horizon. A Catbird worked its way towards me along the river's edge picking at what foods the river had brought. I sat perfectly still waiting to see how close he got to me before he figured out I was there. Three feet is the answer. The clouds were now more pinkish and orange. There must be quite a sunset somewhere out there beyond the hill

    A few fish rose out in the long, slow pool. Sporadic and splashy in the black water. Caddis, maybe. Lots of bugs in the air but not too many of any one kind. It's that mixed bag that makes it difficult to figure out just what the fish are on. Maybe they're confused too which is why they're not rising with any regularity. Shortly, I noticed against the deep blue of a sky on the verge of darkness a swarm of large mayflies. It's the swarm that tells you a spinner fall could happen but they're too high and too disorganized for anything to be imminent.

    It's now too dark to actually see the rises out in the water. You can just make out the silvery edging of the small rings as they catch the last embers of light. My cigar is almost done. The road home to family and life and everything else is ahead of me. I tuck away these memories to savor later and move on.


  1. I, too, remember trips in snippets, in scenes, in vignettes. Simple images that the mind can hold and casually examine in quiet moments. Thanks for sharing yours!

  2. I really enjoyed these "details"...

  3. Yeah, it's unlike me to leave such stuff out but I was tired when I did the original post and was just trying get the facts out of my head.

  4. Whatever. Will you describe the color of your fly box next time, please? Also, what kind of music was the riffle playing?

  5. 95.1, Classic Rock. Though I may have been getting the signal through my fillings. I still have one of those old style metallic fillings.

    You already know the color of my fly box so stop quibbling.

  6. I like classic rock. The Who, in a coffee cup the color of ...oh alright I'll stop. I miss that book!