December 30, 2009

The Lobby

I took this shot from just upstream of the Meenach bridge which is witness every first Sunday in May to thousands of running shoes pounding their way across the bridge as they propel their owners around the Bloomsday course.
I hadn't fished this secluded slot for several years. Not that I was avoiding the somewhat treacherous hike, especially in the coldest months, when the ground freezes and all downhill trails in the constant shadows become slides, but because for several years there were no fish residing in the quiet currents here. I think it had to do with the critically low flows in late summer which forced the fish to vacate while they had the chance. I'd drop in occasionally through those years only to find out that the entire length of this idyllic channel was sadly, still uninhabited.
The main stem of TDR is flowing past to your right as you look at the picture, just on the other side of the vegetation. In the late summer, as the flows decrease, the water level in the Lobby drops, and becomes quite languid. While it still looks fishy, it's only an illusion. It was so low for those past few years that the water was barely knee deep. I remember those years, walking upstream, the vaulted ceiling of leafy trees above me shielding the sun, wishing that there were fish here.
Well, good news. They're back. Browns, mostly, with a few rainbows, too. Last week I made the trek in and was delighted, no, amazed, to see noses as I made my way upstream from the bridge. Brownie noses. In wondering why there are fish here again, I was lead to think that the recent changes in flows as mandated by Avista's new contractual agreements with the feds is partly responsible. There is more water in the system in late fall, starting with this year, and since Brown trout spawn in the fall, I theorize that this may be a spawning area that, because of those higher flows, is again available to them, which is necessary because there is only one creek(Hangman, or Latah, for you non-natives) for the trout to access for the purpose of the spawn. The hope then is that they'll just kind of hang out here, maybe even take up residence again.
Whatever the reason, it's so nice to once again look forward to hanging out with my new friends for a few hours each week in the Lobby.
There's always, if you're a brownie, good eats in the lobby.

December 28, 2009

Winter Dries

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

You've got about 10 minutes to work with once you bare your hands in 15 degree temperatures. After that, the digital opposibility that separates you from 99% of all other living creatures is nullified, and even if the eye of that fly is 4 inches in diameter and you're tying a rope to it, it's going to be a struggle. And never mind your already shaking hands as you watch the noses of several Browns breaking the surface every second or so, chowing down on any and all of those Blue-winged olives whose wings will not dry quickly enough to let them struggle skyward, away from sure death. Plus, you know from past visits here during this time of year that this smorgasbord is going to be a very short-lived, albeit heavily attended affair. Lots of targets. No hunt and peck. More like flock shooting. Try not to mess up your backcast. Don't hurry your delivery, even if every fiber in your being tells you differently. Lay it down softly in the middle, drag free, and stand back, because you also know in the back of your mind that at any time, as suddenly as they appeared, they will be gone, and gone with them will be those noses. The surface will become glassy and quiet again, with no sign of the feast that took place just seconds ago.

December 24, 2009

HUMBUGGER

In the spirit of this 'holiday' season, I offer a thoughtful (in my mind) token to those of you who have nothing better to do with the few precious moments you may have in between wrapping and decorating, preparing food, and getting hammered. You may decide to spend them reading this. If you do, please keep in mind that life is all about learning from our mistakes. Sadly, however, there really are no guarantees.
Have an engaging period of time.

December 21, 2009

Bridge

Home is where one starts from.
T.S. Eliot

When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.
Tecumseh

It's not a drenching rain. Just enough coming down to force a periodic drip from the brim of my hat onto my glasses, leaving trails on the lense as gravity pulls them to my cheek. Light is fading fast. It will make the going back to shore from here a bit of a trial if I wait too much longer, but I'm enjoying the monotony of the cast and the swing more than the thought of my hike back to the car. The dense convolutions in the current make for a different arc in my fly line with each successive roll cast. I try, as I monitor the swing, to imagine what the bottom of the river looks like; what's causing the upwellings and swirls. The water is higher today. The current is stronger, more consistent. I can see where in the summer I could wade and fish without difficulty, but those rocks are now next summer's dream, should they still be there after run-off, which is another facet of this river I look forward to. With only a few exceptions, my explorations will reveal to me new sets of hydraulics, which in turn will dictate new lies for the trout. More so here than in probably any other river I have ever fished are the residents so constantly on the move. They are, without a doubt, a hardy bunch, but I know they have to be in order to survive such a hostile environment as this. They are at the mercy of change at all times of the year, subjected to the whims of the people's needs, rather than their own. Pawns in an ongoing chess match pitting aesthetics against utilitarianisms. Afterthoughts. More or less left to their own instincts, a willingness to engage and survive. Darwin was right. What a perfect illustration of that. Then, as if on cue, I feel a sharp tug, and a dark-backed rainbow soars into the misty dying light of this rainy afternoon, throwing my soft hackle as he somersaults upside down and backwards into the water. I stand and watch my fly line now hanging limply directly downstream, suddenly aware of how far I've come from to this very same place where I started, however many years ago. I am aware of the connective tissue that has insinuated itself between me and this water. How it has been my teacher, teaching me so much more than to fish. How it has emotionally become my home. How as far as I may travel from it, it's place in my heart will never be challenged, will never be replaced. And then again, for not the first time or the last, the wetness on my cheek is not the rain.



December 15, 2009

Border


Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein

Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
Pablo Picasso

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.
Henry David Thoreau

And maybe this one, also; Knowledge makes vivid the art of imagination.
That one's mine.
I really enjoyed taking liberties with the leech pattern. And to really see this, you should double-click on the image. After observing them swimming, then subsequently tying, and then testing my artificials in the bathtub, I realized that I'd been busy creating an art form. It was indeed a gift. My goal had ever so subtly been altered, because the desire to be visually pleased with that which now swam so authentically in the tub superceded any expectancy I harbored with regard to the interest that may or may not be exhibited by trout, although I must confess to a growing conviction that I may have increased the odds. After all, he who fishes with confidence is most likely to know success. And in the wake of my visual appreciation of the artificial's performance in the tub, I can not help but to be made that much more confident of their success in catching the eye of the trout.

December 9, 2009

Beginnings

Writing is the supreme solace.
W.Somerset Maugham

This idea had been percolating for several months. Actually longer than that, but I'm pretty good at putting things off. Off to the point that when this idea of mine would bob to the surface (again and again), I could usually find some way to artfully dodge its existence. But, as adept as I've become at the GREAT PROCRASTINATION, it was not a very comfortable place to reside. See, there were always these persistent questions, and, more importantly, nudges from within and from others, that I was not allowing myself to bring in to the light.
In the beginning it was like keeping a secret; I have this ability and yet I'm going to keep it to myself and that's fine with me and everyone who doesn't like it, well, you just all really don't understand...
... or something like that. More to the point, it was I who didn't understand. But, and I say this humbly, I have had, of late, another in an endlessly, blessedly long line of epiphanies (such a great word).
And so, in light of this most recent awakening, yesterday I sat down, composed an e-mail, and sent it off to 2 gentlemen who are outdoor writers in the employ of our beloved local paper. This e-mail concerned TDR, or for those of you just off the bus, the Spokane River. I didn't really even have an agenda(outwardly), in writing to them, other than to kind of 'touch base' with them in regard to an idea I'd been tossing around having to do with my years of flyfishing experiences (solitary) on said river; how one 'touches base' with a couple of guys who haven't heard from or spoken with me in years may be a stretch, here, but that's what I'll call it.
So I wrapped it up, sent it off, shut down Mr. Mac and got busy doing whatever it is I do next. Tie some flies. Next day, I check my Inbox and I've got mail. And there's a response from each of them. And they both loved the idea. And I've been referred by Mr Liere to Steve Probasco, the editor of N'west Flyfishing Magazine to do an article. Rich Landers, the outdoor editor of our beloved Spokesman-Review and I are going to have a meeting in January to discuss The 4 Seasons On The Spokane River, an article he wants me to put together.
And so here I go. I feel like a little kid. Giddy. Excited to get the hell going. It's like the years of invisibility (due to my insecurities) were really gifts, because during all those years I was still busy, honing the skills that evidently impressed these two gentlemen enough for them to respond the way they did.
Hold on... my bus is here. I'll keep you posted.

December 4, 2009

Articulate


Once you articulate an agenda, you have to follow it.
Brian Mulroney


Or, in this case, once I have articulated a leech pattern, the trout should follow it.
And eat it.
That is my agenda. Pictured is a prototype. There are several more in the offing. I am excited about the prospects for their success.
A report will follow soon.


December 1, 2009

Artifact

Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.
Saint Augustine


The concept reveals again
my folly,
but I dig anyway,
possibly reveling in the
absurdity
swirling like dust.
I'm losing sun
but I go on, more
mindful, now, of my
frailty.
Escape to these dreams,
of saving the grace
of nurture and sweetness
but this special place
has become
my folly,
as I dig, still looking,
still amazed, yes,
but still looking...

November 24, 2009

Observe and Learn



Black and brown leeches. Tied on lightly weighted, but smaller (#12-4x thin wire) hooks. A marabou composition, with just a couple of folded wraps at the eye to give it a slightly thicker profile. No flash. When fished in the slow current, retrieval is a medium fast hand twist.
It then comes alive, wriggling its way through the water back to you, unless attacked along its way.
I had the good fortune several weeks ago to witness this natural (a real leech) attempting to make it to a destination under a clump of overhanging weeds, and, to be honest, I was amazed at (1) the shape, and (2) its ability to navigate through the water column, until it was intercepted, by a large rainbow just before reaching safe haven.
Having nothing even remotely close to resembling that in my boxes and film canisters, I fumbled about, and dug out the closest imitation I had. A bunny-strip leech. I submerged it, squeezing it until it was soaked, and dragged it through the water, observing. I was not thrilled with what I saw. My leech looked like 3 or 4 real leeches glued together. But, since it was all I had, it was given a chance to perform. Several, in fact. And then it was cut off, discarded, and I went back to what I'd originally been fishing.
About an hour later, 2 gentlemen set up nearby, and immediately each was on a fish. This event repeated itself several times in the following hour as my level of frustration crept higher and higher. Finally, able to cope no more, I reeled in, and set out for points downstream or anywhere away from this area. On my way past the second, I sought information.
"Black leech?" I queried, as he nodded in my direction.
"Brown one, actually", he replied. " Lost all my black ones earlier."
"Rabbit strips?" I probed.
"Marabou. Sparse."
So my observation had lead me to the right conclusion. Funny, for as much as I have fished there, how long it took me to finally attain visible proof of the details of a food source so highly prized by these trout. A protein payload. I'd captured scuds, chironomids, sowbugs, BWO and damsel nymphs, but had never had the opportunity to view one of the primary food sources available, and when I did, it was a real awakening. Oh, I'd have tied some anyway after seeing it, but having those gentlemen there underlining it the way they did sure put an exclamation point at the end of this particular sequence.
On my next visit, which was 2 weeks to the day later, I came armed with my usual box full of area-specific flies, and a collection of newly-tied marabou leeches. The day was overcast, threatening rain, with a rather langorous breeze slowly gaining strength out of the southwest. I looked at my 4-weight and grabbed the 5. More pop into the wind if I needed it, especially with the leech.
Anyway, it didn't take long. I went straight to my usual starting point, stripped line from the Evolution, and cast, across and a bit downstream. Here, the current was very gentle, allowing my lightly weighted leech ample sink time as it traveled slowly downstream. I think I got about 4, maybe 5 slow handtwists completed when there was a strong pull. The rod bent, and then recoiled. Then nothing. but,as I've learned from countless similar experiences, I continued retrieving maybe 3, or 4 more. This time the pull was fierce, and he was hooked. So was I. Tight to a fresh one with my new weapon, and grinning like an idiot.



November 18, 2009

Fools

In America we can say what we think, and even if we can't think, we can say it anyhow.

Charles Kettering

Those market researchers... are playing games with you and me and with this entire country. Their so-called samples of opinion are no more accurate or reliable than my grandmother's big toe was when it came to predicting the weather.
Dan Rather

There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.
Winston Churchill

Rumor has it
there's been
a change
but the forecast
is for more
of the same...
I'll gather the facts
from my usual source,
of course.

November 16, 2009

Scud


I watch the next gust work it's way upstream. The water turns dark as the cattails bow in submission, and then, as quickly as it came, passes on upstream, shredded remnants of its recent visit now quietly floating past and away.
A gray, forbidding sky pursues several geese looking for shelter while a parading muskrat casually turns pinwheels just below the surface with vines of grass he's selected.
After a cast upstream just inches from the bank, I usually let it settle for a second or two before I begin the slow, very slow, erratic retrieve. But the geese and the muskrat have presently provided a diversion. My scud sits where it landed, unattended.
Muskrats are cool. They have so much personality. After shooting me a look, he waddles up the muddy bank oblivious to everything except his grasses, which he now samples, looking, I guess, for the tender young shoots which are probably the best tasting.
I get that far with my observation when I am made aware of a movement to my left. Turning, I watch my fly line slowly straightening as it submerges itself.
Trout are mind readers. They know the exact instant you space out.

Surface


Is it weird in here, or is it just me?
Stephen Wright

... and it'd be better
if it rained
hard enough to knock me
face down
into this mud
I'd sooner drown
than think
the skies will take
pity should I
continue to
assume that I have
anything to say
save for a prayer
to no one
in particular
should I decide
to raise my head.




November 12, 2009

One-Hit Wonders



Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.
Voltaire

Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye, and deny it.
Garrison Keillor


However, there are those occasions where staunch belief and strength of conviction, or even denial, are not good medicine. I have a very large beer glass above my tying table that is a concrete testament to the downside of faith.
It's full of flies that failed the test. And failed miserably. They brought no interest from the trout I sought, and if kept them around long enough, nor did they in subsequent outings. In fact, to be honest, it's been emptied twice now, and that says a lot about how many flies have found their way into this dubious 'hall of shame', because it's a 64 oz. glass. Held a lot of awfully good beer in its time, now it is the final resting place, the morgue, the home of disenchantment, the mausoleum of faith. And this does not take into account the countless flies out there, too, returning slowly to organic dust, in nearly all of the places I have fished. To be accurate here, though, is to say that most of these OHWs did indeed register some modicum of success, which is, of course, the reason for the title of this offering.
I have, somewhere in the clutter of a basement somewhere, a rather large collection of late-60s through mid-70s rock and roll records, and this collection is also replete with many bands who failed, just as miserably, the test of time. They were purchased after the most superficial scrutiny, in the faith that indeed this band, on the basis of one song, was going places...
Just like the flies in the glass.

November 11, 2009

Anomalies revisited


Another example of BIGGER IS BETTER...
But don't get me wrong. I really enjoy the science of catching fish. Matching perfectly the time of day, color, shape, size, and movements of a trout's natural food sources is an ability(an acquired ability) that I, and all the really serious flyfishermen seek to imitate. Authenticity can many times be the key to a successful day.
It can also be the most frustrating.
That's the main reason for these flies. They have no base in anything even remotely connected to the real world these fish live in. They have almost none of the characteristics of any of the inhabitants of this slow moving stream, and yet, they really do.
How contradictory of me, thank you very much.
This particular fly, another of my at-the-vise-conceptualizations, is a copy of the fly I used Saturday (Nov. 7) at the creek. It held up well, but after releasing the 4th fish of the hour and examining my fly, it was necessary to 'donate' my now very damaged oddity to the waters for posterity. It's what I do with them all when they reach the point of 'no return'.
That's okay. I've got a million more in my head just waiting their turn to be brought to 'life'.

November 10, 2009

Anomalies


anomaly |əˈnäməlē|
noun ( pl. -lies)1 something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected
I'll try to explain. There is, to me, a very sensible explanation for that which you see above, which stands to reason otherwise I wouldn't have tied it. No, you won't find this pattern in any fly-tying book or manual, no matter how hard you look, because it's totally unique. One-of-a-kind. An oddity, or aberration. And I've not only tied several more that are remotely similar to that one, but, depending upon the success rate of these peculiarities, which I am excitedly creating because of the recent successes of earlier designs, probably many more. I can picture it now; a coffee-table sized book with huge pictures... ANOMALIES - Imagine the Possibilities photographed by Jim Schollmeyer The whole idea for this journey into the abnormal came to me one day in the form of an arm-wrenching strike on a fly I had conceptualized and tied with regard to the spring creek I fish throughout the late fall and winter months. See, as the temperature drops there, even though it's a spring fed creek, the water temperature does drop. And the insects get smaller. Even the scuds and sowbugs, those freshwater cousins of shrimp, become less active( and therefore eat less and stay smaller). And, when you couple the need to fish smaller flies with your ability to tie on those flies with little or no digital cohesion because of the cold, well, it can make for some frustrating times. Which leads me to declare: Yes, there are times when BIGGER IS BETTER. Here the plot thickens, because, getting back to the story, the fly I had been fishing was originally designed to float. My thinking was that I needed to offer the fish something BIG and juicy. After all, it was winter and I'd decided that they'd be willing to eat something with a little more meat than the usual fare, and it had to be something they'd see on the surface as I skittered it across. Great plan. And float it did, for all of 2 seconds before the weight of the hook I'd tied it on pulled it slowly below the surface. And as it gradually sank out of view, I took time to reflect, forgetting that my now immersed anomaly was slowly swinging downstream in the lazy current. It probably got about halfway through it's journey when I observed a rather persistent bow wake from a point somewhat downstream suddenly vanish at the same instant my rod nearly separated itself from my digitally-challenged hands."Hmm", I wondered aloud, a huge grin from numb ear to numb ear, and wondered, as I released that first big Rainbow, if what had occurred was an anomaly in itself, but not for long as this was to be repeated several more times that day. And thus was ushered in a new 'phase' in the fly-tying annals of a compulsive fly-fisherman. So....let's see what we've got here. A foam body, and rubber legs, but it's heavily weighted on the shaft. There's an underwing of antron under a section of black rabbit fur. And the body is arrogantly wrapped in an elegant, but rather obtrusive olive glitter-chenille. Can it possibly resemble any life form that would strike a familiar chord in these fish? That question doesn't need an answer. I just cast, let it slowly sink as it swings, and retrieve. And hold on. Actually, the genesis of this and other flies of this 'genre' has been as deliberate and calculated as any of the more 'classic' flies I have tied, or am tying (said with tongue tucked in cheek). The calculations are a hearty mix of what-ifs combined with why-nots. And that's made it one helluva lot more fun.

November 9, 2009

Silence


After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

Aldous Huxley

Dissidence is the mask harmony wears.
She smiles, as breathes
the infinite grace of
melody, whose dying twin
within herself
dares mad rhythms
to take root
might they drive her
ever after into
a ceaseless dance
on her lost lover's
wounded heart.


November 3, 2009

Thoughts



"Everyone can't be exceptional though we are taught that we can".
Jim Harrison, The Road Home

It's a quarter to five. Still pitch dark. I'm on the Interstate, heading for my spring creek, south-southwest... at about 35 miles an hour. There are long periods now where I can't even see the front of my car. I have to remind myself to breathe.
The fog gets thicker. Every year. I swear it does. Almost to the point in my life now where I seriously consider turning around, except that it seems easier to continue on rather than try to figure out where or how I might accomplish it. And, as I vow to keep going, a brief, but intense emotion nearly brings me to tears, because I know that the day is going to arrive, probably sooner than I think, where I can convince myself not to attempt the drive at all.
This brings to mind one of the many disadvantages attributed to the aging process. I begin to understand that my ability to justify not doing anymore that which I've invested a great deal of time enjoying throughout my life, especially these past few years, is one of, if not THE clearest indicator of the fact that I am getting old, too old to, when I think about it, keep myself young. Well, yes, I am getting old, but it's going to be a serious time of self-investigation before I let that be the overriding factor in any decisions I make regarding being able to pursue those things that I live to do. Seems to me that the decision to cease such activity is one of the saddest times in life. That scares me. I find myself pushing harder, fishing longer, tying more flies, investigating. Driving further. More often. In fact, in doing so, I believe I am fighting off the whole process, although this may be just another sign that I'm closer to that which I seek to avoid. I'm sure I'll be the last one to know, or to admit to that.
I may already be that crazy old man I never dreamed I'd be.
That's okay, though. Who's around to know?

October 26, 2009

Sailboats




Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.
Will Durant

Seldom in my fishing experiences on TDR (Spokane River), or, for that matter, anywhere, have I been witness to a hatch of such magnitude as that which I observed last Sunday (Oct. 25). To be sure, this activity had been building for the past several days, as I had noted during my fishing the previous Wednesday. The conditions that entire week were textbook, and as is the order of things for this time of year, the Blue-winged Olives were next on the slate for their annual fall hatch, and hatch they did, in such numbers as to cause at once joy, and at the same time, consternation. For a period of almost 2 hours, the eddies and buffet lines were dotted with thousands of tiny sailboats.
In the picture of the river, taken at approximately 2 p.m., you will notice the severe hydraulic upwelling. This convolution is 50-odd feet or so below several somewhat shallow rapids, running over rocky terrain to spill into the lower, flatter runs whose bottoms are dotted with very large granite and igneous rocks. The bankside edge is literally wing-to-wing with newly hatched #20-22 BWOs. Water temperature at this time was 48 degrees, and air temp. was 52.
You will also notice the outcropping of large rocks, where just downstream, there are a number of trout noses dimpling the surface. As I noted earlier, the picture was taken at about 2, and I'm pretty sure the fish had been hitting the buffet line for awhile before I arrived, got over my amazement, pulled out the Minolta (with shaking hands), and snapped the picture.
I worked my way back up to the tertiary trail I had used to get here, went downstream below the pod of fish I was watching, who were rising with as much frequency as I have ever seen TDR trout feed, probably about every 3-5 seconds, and decided on an emerger. Like I said, I really had no idea as how long the hatch had been going on; an emerger for me has always been the logical starting point when I'm not sure of the time frame s far as the progression is concerned, which I will explain more fully later, if I remember.
The flows as of Sunday were at about 1920cfs., which means to a classic caster, if he is attempting to reach these fish, that there is no, and I mean, NO, room for a classic cast. It's all roll casting now. And, the fact that one is severely limited as far as access to 'perches' which will get him even a couple of feet further from the bank, well... good luck not slipping in for a swim if you miss with your leap from the bank. I opted for the safe, although more difficult angle close to shore.
So I started at the bottom of the pod, and the emerger immediately took 2 fish. Then, upon further examination of the hatchees when I began seeing 'excuse me' rises close to my emerger, I saw that there were now a few spent-wings (dying or dead mayflies) in the mix. Not many, but a few. So, wanting to test my new adult version, I went to a #20 adult (see picture); and took 3 more, one close to 19".
Then, a while later, I went to the spent-wing, and finished off the day with 2 more fine rainows and a beautiful cutbow.
An amazing day. All in the span in the photograph, and all in the span of 2 and a half hours.

October 21, 2009




There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
Stephen Wright

A wintry day spent fishing a popular spring creek comes back to me.
A foggy, windless, damp afternoon. Clouds of midges are everywhere, thousands of them, creating a midrange buzz audible for even the hard-of-hearing, which includes yours truly.
The creek where I am fishing languidly flows to the west; lazy convolutions occasionally marring the glassy surface surface as they move downstream.
I am fishing a scud. Cast upstream, right off the bank, and let it sit. And sit. Then, as you would retrieve a chironomid in still water, with simple, slow wrist-twists, the scud is worked back downstream, alternately sliding, and sometimes even almost bouncing through the grasses and mud. I start close, with short casts, and gradually extend the distance with each successive cast. This method has proven deadly over the years, bringing many fine trout to my hand.
On this day, however, as I occupy myself with the task of remaining patient in the retrieve, I become aware of a fisherman across the creek. He's watching me, or so I think. But the reality of it is that he's really watching clouds of midges that are hovering above the creek in the area.
"I'm twitching a scud", I tell him, thinking that he's wondering what I'm using.
He nods, and pulls out a fly box.
"A #16. Kind of a pearl-olive coloration."
Again he nods.
"Little slow so far. How've you been doing?"
He looks up, biting off the tag end of his tippett, and lets fall from his hand whatever it is he's just finished tying on.
"Oh, I've been doing all right. Say, would you mind if I put a cast right downstream from you... say right off that stand of cattails?"
I turn and eye the area asked about. The water was shallow there, maybe a couple feet deep.
"Not a problem", I replied. " Gonna throw a scud at 'em? Don't see many prospectives there right now, though."
He grins, pulls line from his reel, and nods.
About this time I notice that my rod has become a midge landing zone. It is literally coated with tiny, crawling insects with wings. It is amazing. Even my fly line, normally a flourescent green, is now a gray-black. I am so amazed by the sight that I fail to see the many intersecting rings overlapping on the surface of the creek below me.
I pick up my line and cast upstream again, sending thousands of midges into the air. I am afraid to breathe, making sure my mouth is closed.
I watch the fisherman place a nice forty foot cast within two or three feet of the cattails. His strike indicator wiggles a bit, then steadies, and I'm just about to remark on his cast, when a very large trout very deliberately swims underneath said indicator, and said indicator suddenly submerges. The fisherman lifts his rod, and the very same very large trout comes two feet out of the water.
" Scud?" I ask, not really thinking that he's using one, because my eyes are now finally communicating with my brain. Doing some adding.
"Chironomid. Black-olive. A twenty-two. Beadless."
"Ahh", I remark, as if to say, yeah, I knew that. Inside, however, I'm thinking, is my chagrin showing? My red face?
" So... how those scuds working for you?" he laughs.

Lesson learned. Big time.

October 19, 2009



Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject.
Eliot Porter

Yes, it's that time again. Time to pay attention to detail. Why? Well, as applied to flyfishing the spring creek where I will spend the majority of my fall and winter fishing hours, it means paying creedence to some very highly educated trout. And that means, for the most part, offering only them only very authentic imitations of the food sources they see the most. There are always exceptions to rules, but AS A RULE, exceptions do not offer the pleasure derived from matching what are the few predominant food sources in the cool weather diet of spring creek trout. And, to take that a step further, those imitations must also ACT like the natural. Otherwise, it makes for a long day watching fish after fish ignore your offering as if it was nothing more than detritus. That's part of the beauty of spring creek fishing in the winter; the chance to WATCH this happen, time and time again.
But, if you fish it long enough, and are willing to not settle for the occasional exceptions to the rule, your ability to discern proper patterns, their coloration, movements, and times of the day will cause you to tie better imitations and fish them more wisely.
I can't wait.
I say that to myself every year, somehow forgetting the hours that will still be spent suffering through various periods of refusal.