May 16, 2011

The Box

Reality is a sliding door.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'd again chosen to fish the other side. Actually, a threatening sky and the tempermental winds out of the south accompanying my arrival had aided me in that decision. And as the hours ticked past, it turned out to be a rather wise one, but not because of the weather which was to phase into a decidedly beautiful day.
It's early in the turnover stage at the creek. Last year's ubiquitous growth of water-borne vegetation, now dead and brown, is slowly being loosened by the warming sun and longer daylight hours. The new growth helps to break it loose and it drifts downstream. As the sunlight warms the creek in days to come, the volume of detritus floating past will make it increasingly difficult to get a fly into the water without it becoming tangled in or coated by the slimy dead stuff. Casting will become an exercise in precision, seeking out those few open areas inside which a fly will at least enter the water cleanly. Trouble with that approach is that below the surface, it may an altogether different story. The flow distributes the muck evenly from top to bottom. So, even though you have dropped your fly cleanly in the middle of open water, and unless the fly either sinks very fast or continues its floating drift in the middle of that same area, you'll be shaking off the clinging dead stuff after almost every cast. And as many of you already know, especially when it involves very finicky, sun-shy trout, even the smallest particle of non-substantive material on your fly is enough reason for them to pass on it, no matter how well you have matched whatever it is that they are eating. It can be more than frustrating.
So if I decide I'm going to fish dry, I better be in one of the few areas where the flows are fast enough to isolate more than just a few open areas of water, but the trouble with this approach is that that's not always where the fish are. In fact, I've found that foraging fish often shadow these drifting hunks of goo, casually scooping up any tasty morsels that occasionally drop away from, or still reside in them. They're like mobile diners/shelters, providing cover as well as food.
This process usually takes a couple of weeks to run its course, but today I will have, until well into the afternoon, lots of open water to work with. One of the keys, as this process progresses, is to be fishing as early as possible. That allows for a few hours of relatively gunk-free fishing each day. As the passing days warm and 'turnover' reaches its peak, that optimum time span in the early morning will shrink radically.
I choose a muddy point marked by only a few tattered stands of cattails from where I have command of several feet of casting area and nearly a hundred yards of water. My usual routine of starting up much higher on the creek and ending here was tossed when I saw that the 'turnover' had begun. That and the fact that no matter how early I leave home in the morning now I just can't seem to get here before the sun comes up. That event alone takes several fly choices out of the program, namely my articulated leech. When the sun hits the water, put away the leech patterns, unless you want to search for the one fish in every two hundred feet of water that's willing to chase it. But by and large, when the sun lights up the reeds and rushes on the north side of the creek, it's too late. The fish are hunkering, waiting for the next course, which will usually be midges or blue-winged olives, while some foragers are in the meantime tearing through the new vegetation for scuds, sowbugs, and chironomids, meaning that it's time to think smaller, and more scientifically, when the sun comes.
That's why I chose the title for this post. But don't let that fool you.

Everybody's 'box' has a different shape, color, and size. There are no two that are alike. Each of our boxes fits somewhat neatly around the sets of experiences and notions (pre-conceived or not) that we have developed throughout our years of fishing for each and every place we may frequent per times of the year. Contained in our 'boxes' are not only the concrete manifestations of our experiences but also the intrinsics, the intangibles; the stuff of how we fish, how we think about fishing, what and why we comprehend what we do, and how we put it all together into our process.

There are times when, on occasion, our boxes will appear to be somewhat related. I think that this occurs more often with the accumulation of similar sets of experiences, and is usually an aggregate of many years of knowledge. But, even though we may agree in broader terms of what to use, that's just about where any semblance of similarity ends. For me, this is one of the more (if not the most) fascinating aspects of fishing with a fly. It's also the reason you'll find such a wide variety of flies, methods, and thought processes at work wherever even time-tested folks fish with flies.
But, let's get back to the fishing, particularly this day.

My choice of fly (having disregarded the impulse to strip the leech anyway despite the sun) was an easy one, based on the success I'd enjoyed with it the previous week in about the same time frame. My soft hackle. I was sure that I'd pick right up where I left off last week, hooking big fish after big fish, but after a half hour of casting and trying many styles of retrieve, I'd as yet had no action. Interesting, and yet so normal. I knew it wasn't a one-hit wonder, and so then pondered just what I use next.

My 'box' is full of the systemic interactions of 'what ifs' played out against the experientially immediate reality of now. A scud seemed to be the logical next step, so I went to my vest pocket, pulled out a box and opened the scud section, but then stopped. Sitting on the back of my hand was a midge. My attention turned back to the water, and after a moment or two of observation, I respooled my line and played on a hunch, moving downstream several hundred feet to a section of faster water broken by a series of rocks. A perfect (in my eyes) place for a chironomid, a brown one with a silver rib, drifted under an indicator. Put the fly upstream just above the rocks and let it drift down, with the current pulling it around the rocky outcropping.
The indicator bobbed and then submerged. I lifted my rod, but felt nothing. Another cast, and the same result. Tentative takes, I deduced, based on what was in my 'box'. I then stepped out of it a bit, deciding that I'd add another chironomid to the mix. I tied a similar, albeit slightly darker one below the first. Maybe there's success in numbers, a theory I'd frequently entertained, but had been reluctant to subscribe to up until now.
The next drift had barely begun when the indicator suddenly disappeared. I felt the weight of a good fish, and battled him carefully. Three-pound test tippet will demand that; patiently absorbing his runs and head shaking until finally bringing him to hand. Another cast, and the same result. It went on like this for a good hour. I hooked, landed, and released many fish, all the while being sure after every other fish to re-tie my set-up. But, eventually, I got lazy, chose not to re-tie, and lost my bottom fly. I wondered if two really were better than one, and cast the lone chironomid several times, not surprised that the takes were fewer and much less violent before again adding a second chironomid similar to the one I'd lost back into the equation. I was again rewarded consistently for the next half hour.

And then, as is so often the case, it was as though some one (or some thing) had suddenly flipped the switch. It was palpable.The energy level had changed. Dropped right off the scale. Drift after drift with no activity.

I respooled my fly line, observing the water again. There were still thousands of midges in the air, clustering in the air where it was out of the wind, but I sensed that a change in location and fly were in order. I returned upstream to my original location, using the travel time to ponder my next move.

I'd all but decided to drift the same set-up through the slower, deeper water that ran by me, though I had reservations about this method now, especially here. I could see many trout cruising upstream and then down again, occasionally darting this way and that, their mouths opening and closing...

Scuds. I clipped off the light tippet, returned the chironomids to their section, went again to my scuds, and had an idea; if two chironomids had proved more attractive than one, could the same be true for scuds? Hm. I got to work. A larger, more lightly colored scud on top (point) with a smaller, heavier, much darker one on the bottom, about a foot apart. I cast short, slightly upstream and waited for them to sink. I didn't have long to wait. It was crazy. For the next couple of hours it was crazy. Fish after fish. I fished from this one position. And they all ate the bottom, darker scud. Most of the takes were within eyesight. I was able to see the scud, see the take. And even when I couldn't, the takes were so aggressive that nearly all the hook-ups were solid.

My 'box' had been expanded a few weeks ago when I'd been forced by the brutally hard winds that day to abandon fishing. I'd then taken some time to search out and hopefully collect specimens of some of the food sources available to these trout. My findings, for the most part, were in accordance with what I'd surmised without having first-hand knowledge. But, it was what I had not known until I took the time to see for myself that provided the structure for this success. I'd hit upon this in an earlier post, but the real significance didn't make itself apparent until I finally leaned on that new-found knowledge hard enough to actually put it to use. The color of the scuds was infinitely darker than the color I'd long thought was right. It was incredible, the difference. My choice of colors was the product of my limited success here with scuds, and mostly (I hate saying this) the result of looking at too many imitations of scuds that I'd seen in many fly shops and read about in several publications. Turns out that they were not even closely similar in color (or size) to what I'd found in my 'research' here. And, to take that a step further, even after tying several scuds with 'correct' color, I was hesitant to implement them, choosing marginal success over change. The 'box' imprisoned me.

In a few weeks, mother nature permitting, I will be back in my river. But I think I will be fishing it with a better 'box' now. The lessons I've learned in my time away from there will be of inestimable value. They will extend far beyond the locale and the specific realm with which they dealt. And, it seems that finally I have acquired the patience necessary with which to deal with the idea that indeed I have as much still to learn as I have already learned. For that I am grateful, because I am also, maybe because I am finally old enough to really see, that even though the gift of fishing consistently well with a fly can be either bought or acquired, I'll take the latter. I'll gladly take the latter. It's so much more satisfying.
Every box is different. I'm proud of mine. I built it myself.

May 6, 2011

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.

Being tired, but not so as to yet be inclined to turn out the light, I sought the mind-numbing refuge of the television. This is always a sure-fire mechanism, serving to remind me that indeed sleep is always preferable to the half-conscious, slow-burning stupor induced by staring at that which I find less than palatable for even the briefest amount of time. A good book is the best way to coaxe oneself to the precipice, but, being in between the last and the next, and not quite sure as to what would be the next, I grabbed the remote, got comfortable, and settled in to a channel-by-channel march through the morass.

"... I'm the slime oozing out of your tv set..."
Frank Zappa, Overnight Sensation

I didn't get far, but found, much to my delight, bobbing perilously in the sea of biliousness, hidden away on the city's community-access channel (of all places), substance. Real, unabashed get-down-to-it-say-it-like-it-is substance!
I had happened on an impassioned speech, a plea, really, delivered by a well-educated, eloquent, driven gentleman to a group of arts-conscious individuals gathered in Seattle. He was not only a motivator, but a sentinel, and visionary. His intense desire, compelling observations, and message were captivating. His audience embraced every word, and I could not help but be moved by his conviction... and then smiled to myself as I turned out the light, knowing full well, somehow, that no matter how much sanity may still exist in the minds of those willing to sacrifice everything, and how righteous their agenda, it was as inevitable as midnight...

For how long I had heard it, I do not know, but now I stood there, just listening. It was almost as though it had always been there, but I was hearing it for the first time, the oddest sound, somewhat muffled, yet quite distinct. There was a stillness about me, not even the rustling of the dry grasses, as though even the unseen animals and birds, usually busy in the underbrush, had frozen so that I might understand what it was.
Soft. A pulsing whoosh, barely audible...
My fly line line bows slowly. The current is steady, its imperfect roils barely visible in the shadow of the rocky outcropping of hills. The sound perplexes me. I cease my retrieve and turn my head, first this way, then that, listening...

I think out loud sometimes. I know this is occurring when I hear my own voice. It is as though suddenly I've been granted audience to a dialogue inside my head and I become a third person, commenting on, or responding to that which I have just overheard.
It is just this that is occurring when a sharp tug jerks me back into the present. My thought hangs, breathless. I raise my rod and feel resistance for a split second before it is gone.
As I stand there, realizing what has happened, the sound that has eluded definition is there still, but with a quicker cadence. Louder. I realize I have been holding my breath, and exhale sharply as if coming to the surface after a lengthy submersion. I breathe. The cadence decreases, and fades slightly, as if stepping back.
I swallow hard, as if altitude is the key, and pressure is the answer... a snake slides silently across the water downstream, disappearing into the rushes filled with new growth. I cast further this time, a long diagonal that lands my fly inches short of the spot I last saw the snake...

May 2, 2011

The small stuff.

I try stuff. I synthesize what's of value with some of the other things I have at my disposal.
Herbie Hancock

Nothing can have value without being an object of utility.
Karl Marx

Every Thursday. Every Thursday. In fact, I'm going on sixteen straight weeks of Thursdays.
Out of bed at two-thirty, and on the road by no later than three forty-five. I've (almost) got it down to a science. It's all in the preparation, and listen to me; why, I sound like I'm organized!
It's a hundred and two miles from my garage west on the freeway to the exit. Then another twenty-five through the town of Moses Lake then north toward Ephrata (or Soap Lake) to Trout Lodge 'road' which washboards me (sometimes savagely) for a couple more miles to the bottom parking lot (there are three). This journey takes me approximately (on average) a hundred and fifty minutes. I'd say two and half hours, but that makes it seem so much longer.
When I hit the dirt road, I plug in the cassette (remember them?) which is full of old Deep Purple, and by old I'm talking late sixties/early seventies here.
"Nobody knows who's real and who's fakin'
Everyone's shoutin' out loud..."

That's the stuff (some of that 'sweet stuff') I talked about in an earlier post).

It's been a long winter. I say that on this twenty-eighth day in April, which is, according to 'them', the second coolest (and wettest) March/April ever. We've topped the sixty degree mark maybe once, or twice, so far this 'spring', with daytime highs averaging a good ten degrees below normal. Not that I'm complaining; I've still got half a boxful of hand warmers left, and a 'muffler' I found in a Duluth catalogue, so I'm probably good through the end of next month. Last week I had ice in the guides past noon. Lost a couple of nice flies (and fish) because I thought I could put off the removal process for one more cast. You'd think by now I'd have learned, and you'd be right. But next year's a ways off. I'll probably forget the lesson (again) by then. I think I've forgotten more than I ever really knew, but I've always been kinda hard on myself.
It's almost five thirty. I'm the first one here, except for a couple of campers parked near the potty at the middle lot. I could never understand why anyone would actually want to set up camp here. It's not a pretty place. In fact, except for the fishing, there's little to recommend as far as amenities, or scenery for that matter. And, whenever it decides to warm up, you've got not only the dust but all sorts of disagreeable creatures, from fleas and ticks to snakes of the poisonous kind, to deal with.
But I can put up with all that for a few hours once a week. The fishing more than makes up for whatever shortcomings there are. And really, the time span from late February through the spring until the run-off subsides on the rivers to the east and southeast marks the boundaries of my time here. I lust for that time when I can be back in my river (the Spokane) again, but for now, well, this is the place.
A good place here to say something about getting older and fishing alone, or, in my case, having no one to go fishing with. Don't get me wrong; I have more than enjoyed my years of solitude on the different waters I've fished, but slowly, especially over the course of the past year or so, I've found myself wanting to further expand, or should I say reclaim my fishing horizon. I'll pull out my Gazateers, wondering what it'd be like to do some fishing a bit further from my usual haunts, of which there are increasingly fewer. I'd like to explore Montana again, be free to roam the Beaverhead, or the Big Horn, the Gallatin, or the Bitterroot. I'd love spending time again wading the South Fork of the Snake and the Henry's Fork. Or, as I thumb through the Wyoming Gazateer's blue squiggles, the North Platte...
I could go on and on. The list is long. I spend an awful lot of time searching, investigating, plotting just exactly how to get to all these places. I know what I'd use once I was there, and I know it'd work. Problem is simply getting there, which isn't a problem if I had some one to get there with. If I was twenty, or even ten years younger, it'd be a done deal. I'd be on the road the hell with everything (and everybody) else and think nothing about it. But now? Now I feel my age creeping into the picture. What if this, and what if that? And then I can't help but start to wonder if this, then, is the starting point of the slow but inevitable process of the beginning of the end, no matter how protracted it turns out to be, and it makes me sad. It makes me want to go fish. Again, and again. Turn back the hands of time. Isn't it quite the conundrum that it takes a lifetime to attain a satisfactory level of wisdom?
The years pass into futures short, memories made, and then all but forgotten. I need to get past this. I need to remain convinced that I can do it still. So I shall. It's worth it. It's worth everything, to me.

Rocky Ford is one of those places that the 'cool' guys who fish a lot never want to talk about. It's the back alley. It's the underside of the otherwise fairy tale dreamlife that is their fly fishing. They will never go there. If they have, they will never go back, and they will never admit to ever having been there. No high-end fly shop sits on its banks. No expensive drift boats drift past. Indeed, there is no wading even allowed here. The road in is primitive and dusty, which in itself does not make it prohibitive, but upon arrival there are no expensive SUVs parked with haughtily garbed fishermen walking about. There are no facilities whatsoever, other than a cement block of a smelly latrine which rarely has toilet paper. There is no tavern, no eatery, no nothing. What there is, at the top of the 'creek', is a hatchery. This hatchery provides the trout found in this 'creek', that runs seven miles down to an arm of Moses Lake, of which only the top two miles are fishable unless carp, bass, tench, or walleye are your intended targets. And even though these trout often get very large, are quite wily, and can be very hard to tempt, the fact that they are not 'wild' trout is another,probably the second most compelling reason for many of these guys not ever wishing to come here. These fishermen will collectively roll their eyes when someone not 'educated' in the ways of 'true' fly fishermen or fly fishing begins (ignorantly) relating a story about Rocky Ford in front of these 'gentlemen'. I know of what I speak. The years spent at the shop gave me plenty of chances to witness this.
I took offense to this rather pious attitude, and it helped to congeal some thoughts I have about them. It galled me to no end. Early on in my tenure there at the shop I remember (rather naively) trying at different junctures to talk some of the guys I'd gotten to know into accompanying me to Rocky Ford. I got polite refusals, and embarrassed glances. Confused, I eventually gave up. But, when it came to hopping in their SUVs and driving for five or six hours (at least) to well-known rivers in Montana, Idaho, or BC, well, I was more than welcome and by the way would I mind tying up a couple dozen of my BWO emergers for them? The interesting (to me) part of all this is that eventually I was successful in convincing some of them to go with me, and what I discovered was that maybe the biggest reason they didn't go there was the fact that the fishing could be very difficult. Technical, even. Precise casts, and perfect drifts. Convincing imitations. Knowledge. Experience. Patience.
Through my years spent fishing, I have discovered that there definitely is a group of fly fishermen who, when it comes right down to it, are extremely defensive about what they know, where they go, and who they go with, and I believe this is because they know less than they care to say. Their high-end rods and equipment, their expensive trips, are all facades behind which exists a pretty fragile ego. And rather than possibly expose themselves as being like all the rest of us, they choose the pack mentality and associate themselves only with like thinkers. Kind of sounds like life, doesn't it? Rather than being curious and asking questions for fear of being found out, they hide behind a thick wallet and smug aloofness which other fishermen often mistake for wisdom. It is this fear of being found out that keeps many from truly enjoying that which makes certain aspects of fishing with a fly so wonderful. They spend their whole lives imitating and stealing. Makes me wonder about their private lives.
It was easy to disassociate myself from this type, and to go it alone.

Couple of weeks ago I took my bug balm, some small jars and my screen out to 'The Ford'. I had decided that I would try to obtain some samples of the various food sources of the habitants of the 'creek'. And what I dredged up from the muddy bottom was an eye opener. Nothing like seeing so many of the trout's actual food sources up close and personal. I hate admitting this, but for a very long time I'd gone on other people's word and my own hunches when it came to size, color, and type, so the first time I dug through the contents of that screen, I was basically shocked. There were organisms in there that I knew trout ate, but I'd never thought they could be found here. And, the ones that I knew were there? Well, let's just say that a good majority of my ideas, or preconceptions, about color, and even size were in reality not very good guesses. It was a big piece of humble pie to swallow, but I gulped it down and spent a lot of hours at the vise trying to make up for lost time.
In the meantime, I discovered that a pattern I fish on the Spokane River quite successfully works very well at The Ford. It just took some modification of technique. That discovery (one of those accidental things) was very satisfying. That pattern is my TDR soft hackle, and it's tied the same way I've tied it for many years.
In any fishing fishing report you may uncover concerning what flies to use here, it's safe to say that the soft hackle probably won't be on anybody's list, and I've yet to discover any data that would refute my investigations. And, although I've used it sporadically over the years, I can point to very few (if any) occasions where it was one of my 'go tos'. My decision to use it in the past was usually almost a sign of frustration with every other fly and method up to that point. Like throwing in the towel. Raising the white flag. A fly that I could stand back and cast as far as I could. After hours of frustration it felt good to just let out the shaft and pop some long ones.
But, every once in a while, I'd hook fish; either close to the end of the very slow swing or as I began the retrieve, the latter being performed in much the same fashion as done on my river. The takes were, as I've said, aggressive, some to the level of breaking me off with such gusto that I had a macrame project on my hands for awhile. But success with the softie was fleeting, inconsistent. I began to change fishing locations more frequently, hooking a fish or two in each new location before moving again. I came to think that with this method I was hooking either the more aggressive or the dumber fish in each area I moved to. Didn't matter. Despite the inconsistencies, it was enough to keep me occupied until it was time to go.


Most of life is routine - dull and grubby, but routine is the momentum that keeps a man going. If you wait for inspiration you'll be standing on the corner after the parade is a mile down the street.
Ben Nicholas

I'd fallen, quite consciously, into a routine through the years I'd fished 'the Ford'. There was an itinerary of sorts; a certain starting point and then the usual subsequent stops until I'd exhausted those and then, well, then it was time to get creative. Time spent at each location was totally dependent upon the successes or failures at each, which left, on average, a solid three hours or so of actual creative fishing. It was time, after satisfying my pre-conceived notions, to get down to the business of 'figuring it out'. This year I broke out a new routine. I decided that I'd not fished the far side of this 'creek' enough, and it was true; I'd really become fixated by the north side.
The north side offers more area unencumbered by the ubiquitous stands of cattails which had made the south side not as attractive to me. I had room to cast and also less mud to stand in. A fly line really takes it in the shorts here. It collects mud, gets heavy, sinks, and transfers that gooey stuff to your reel.
But, the south side, as I discovered when I began accessing it more often gets less pressure in many areas, especially near the top of the 'creek'. It's a bit of a walk, has only a few scattered openings in the dense forest of cattails, and, most importantly, its deeper water halfway across seems to hold bigger fish that I think have not seen as many flies. This particular observation may or may not be factual, but so far every time I hook up here, which has been often, I am pleasantly amazed.
It was here that I made my serendipitous discovery.

Time is a factor here at the top of the 'creek'. If I get here before the sun has hit the water, I go to my black articulated leech. It's a great pre-dawn pattern. If I ever stay here long enough to fish into the evening, it would be my first choice. On a dark, rainy, windy day here several weeks ago I fished only the AL for most of the day and landed more than a dozen nice fish.
But today the sun beats me to the water. The wind has yet to rise, and the chill in the air precludes any hatch activity on the surface other than a few midges. I reach for my soft hackle, intent on at least having something in the water until the warming rays of the sun kicks the process of the hatch into high gear. I strip a lot of line off the reel and stand on it while pulling, stretching the kinks out. The 'creek' here moves past very slowly, and is at its widest. My casts will drop the soft hackle more than halfway across. After letting it sink as it drifts downstream for a few seconds, I begin my retrieve, strip strip... strip.... strip strip... strip... I am midway through my fourth or fifth series when there is a sharp tug in the opposite direction. I raise my rod, feeling the spasmodic pull of a desperate trout. He races frantically away, nose up, halfway out of the water into frenzied contortions on the surface, and then dives for the safety of the depths, each turn punctuated by violent head shaking. My rod soaks up the shock, bending, recoiling, bending radically with each determined effort.
I hook one more large, bright fish. Then, two casts turn into four, and then eight, and I ponder my next move. There is another opening a hundred or so feet downstream. As I study the water off of that opening, I resume my retrieve, a bit half-heartedly, just fast enough to keep the fly moving. There is a tremendous pull and a split second later a trout shoots skyward. Again and again he breaks the surface, dashing first downstream, then across. He goes ballistic once more, swimming in the air as he tumbles, and my soft hackle is shaken free.
As I ready the next cast, the change in rhythm and speed of my retrieve are not lost on me. I wonder... and am rewarded as I duplicate the last retrieve. Another solid take. Another nice fish.
By the time I had fished my way back down to the narrow rock-filled chute (about a half-mile), I had landed seven more, all enticed by the soft hackle and my slower, less erratic retrieve. In that time I went through three flies, chewed and mangled, barely recognizable after being eaten so many times.
And so it was a good day. A remarkable day, actually. I have been back at the same positions to fish the soft hackle that very same way, and it has been nearly that good each time. All because I was able to locate and then duplicate the mechanism that drew in the first fish.
So, yeah, it took me awhile to figure out what I'd done, and I'm still not sure why it works so well, or what food item the trout think it resembles, but by simply changing the style of retrieve, I've added a lethal weapon to my complement. The takes are aggressive, and it's been working for several weeks now. Excellent!
By early afternoon, the wind had really picked up. It was one of those spring days where one minute the gusts are out of the north, and the next, out of the east, and so on. I moved downstream to an area where I was somewhat sheltered from the various wind directions by a thicket of cattails. It was here where I discovered why I hadn't touched a fish for nearly an hour. In reaching for my fly box to check my scud supply, I saw on my vest and waders several dozen midges clinging to me. There were at least four different varieties, and I never would have known they were out had it not been for the windbreak this slot offered. The light bulb came on. I lengthened my leader, adding a two-foot section of tippet, then opened the section in my box that contained my smallest chironomid patterns, sizes twenty-four to twenty-six. I grabbed a brown one with silver ribbing topped by a silver bead, tied it on and attached a small indicator, puling it up about eighteen inches above my tiny chironomid. The cast was difficult, waiting for lulls in between gusts to quickly put the fly out into the water. The results were almost instantaneous. My indicator floated with the slow current for only seconds before suddenly disappearing, and I quickly, but gently, raised my rod. Another small victory. I finished up the day right there, ducking the wind while hooking several big, feisty trout. It was a very nice walk back through the mud and the wind at the end of the day.

That's all small stuff. But it's huge. Makes my world continue to spin on an even keel. I love figuring things out, and am fascinated by the sometimes inadvertence of discovery.
It's the small stuff that can slip by. It's the same small stuff that can make or break a day.
That's some sweet stuff.