It’s the end of the Alder cycle and I am hell bent on experiencing it again before they wrap up their lives on the river. Today, I head out with all versions of the alder fly in my fly box; two nymph versions, a wet, and two stages of the dry alder. Thank you, Art! We arrive at our launch site and it is immediately apparent that the Alders have wound down. There are less of them fluttering and fewer excited fish piercing the river’s cieling. What there are decidedly more of, however, is people. This is the first time I have been on the river on a summer weekend day in a some time and I had forgotten that it is a pure luxury to be able to take up residence in a trout spot for hours. Today, I will need to have my fly fisher manners on and move down the river succinctly. It’s a bluebird day with little wind so I am feeling no worry about how the fish will behave. It’s going to be picturesque ride, with or without trout on my leader.
After some lack luster rises at the early stage dry alder, I move down a bit to open up space for those fly fishers that have come to try their rod wading from the launch area. We pull into one of my favorite little “micro” holes where we land a couple of little rainbows who take a submerged late stage dry on the strip. The fishing,all together, is slow. I am just about ready to call it a river day as my boat mate today is not a fisher. She is patient, but if the fishing isn’t special, I can’t help but feel a little selfish as she bakes in the sun waiting to move downriver to the next point of interest.
I climb a rock to get a look at the upcoming current and take another distracted cast which, to my surprise, results in an undoubtedly much bigger fish. Problem is, I’m perched high on a boulder with deep water all around and can’t get enough leverage or reach with my net to get this guy on board. And I WANT to see this fish!
I’m not confident that I will land him given the restricted ability to adjust my angle and the lack of a barb on my Alder. I can hear Angus now…”side pressure, Stephanie!” After 4 or 5 swings towards the net combined with advanced yoga moves, I contain him. And he is beautiful. I love brook trout. No other fish triggers such wonder and amazement as this fellow does with his Kodachrome dots.
After his successful catch and release, we enjoy a snack and a little coffee before heading out. At this point, the sun is bearing down on the water pretty hard, dashing my hopes for subsequent exciting catches. We enjoy the remaining quick water and take notice of herons and loons on our stillwater paddle to the take out. And since we wanted to drive together, we now have the last leg of the trip…the walk to retrieve the vehicle. At this point I am always dishelved, hungry, thirsty and beginning to feel the scorch of the sun. Shortly after taking to the pavement, I am in receipt of many very strange looks from oncoming drivers and passengers alike. As I walk, I wonder what is so interesting/compelling about me that so many people are taking notice. I am also very careful to be sure that I avoid any interaction with persons who might have murderous intentions (because, as you know, the cautionary tales of people with hatchets waiting under your car at the mall told to all youth by nervous parents die hard.). It’s in that moment that I realize, IT’S ME! It’s me, in fact, that looks like the creepy ax-murdering weirdo! So as a public service, I felt it prudent to put you at ease. Should you see a person who looks like this:
DON’T WORRY! The person will be unsteady, dehydated, wearing multiple pairs of eyeglasses and other sundry headgear. He or she will be wearing clothing that would seem to be incongruent with the current weather conditions. This is to avoid being baked any further. Rest at ease, you are not in danger! This Creepy Highway Drifter is just a tired fly fisher fetching transport after a long day fishing. The little grin you observe is not her responding to comical internal voices. Rather, it’s a welcome residual symptom of a day spent falling in love with brook trout …all over again.