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