Thursday, March 01, 2007

First Day Out

There's something special about the first day of the year on water. For some such an eventful outing isn't defined, instead it's a mere blend of continuous days fishing from one year to the next. Others, such as myself, consummate each season with a traditional day or trip where upon it's conclusions a purposeful reprieve is taken. Such pause nurtures time for reflections and anticipation, anticipation for the first rings from winters trout lulled from frigid currents to feast on the years first aquatic drifters.

Unlike many of my last days wading
Nez Perce Country's cool fall waters methodically hoping for that often elusive Steelhead tug , first days occur more randomly. As I've gotten older, I'm a little more selective about maiden voyages. Where once freezing temperatures were an open invitation for solitude, they now leave me in the shop patiently awaiting more temperate conditions and reasonable weather. I must be getting old, not wanting to admit my maturing age. Perhaps particular is a more appropriately chosen word.

For the last several weeks there's been a change to the weather. Although there has been a significant amount of needed precipitation, the days are warmer stirring the urge to get out. I'm not the only one to have noticed. My compulsion
possibly has been coerced from the growing number of reports from those who have recently ventured to the river. After all, one can only take so much and I've appeared to have reached that threshold.

At the end of my Tuesday evening tying class, I finally succumbed. Although it's late when I arrive home, that energy derived from the contemplation of this day has me anxiously running around my home and garage in search of those trout fishing necessities; fly boxes, floatant, tippet material (had to make a quick run back to the shop-one advantage to having a key to the door), cheaters and license. You'd think it would be easy, but I'm not the most organized person. My wife will attest to that. By midnight I'm packed.

I'm fortunate I don't need much sleep nor need to set an alarm, especially on a day such as this for I slept little. I'm up before it's light out with coffee on, while the rest of my family sleeps. Normally I travel with someone on a day like this, but for some reason I've relegated to fish alone. At times there is no better elixir for relieving life's often hectic pace. Not having much time, I figured I may possibly put a damper on anyone who might come along.

Today my requirements are simple. Most days on the water lately seem to take on this peculiarity. Even if I chose not to cast a fly, the elements that make our sport gratifying will suffice to satiate my needs. Should my expectation be met, I'm hopeful to cast a fly over a rising trout. If I should be fortunate enough to have the trout take the fly than I'll consider the day a
fortuitous success, for not many enjoy such acts of leisure.

Entering the canyon a fair amount of snow lies plowed by the road. The sun has yet to touch the water. All
remains still as I pull over. The canyon aromas and sounds rejuvenate my numbed senses upon exiting my vehicle. As foreseen I'm the only angler in the canyon, yet I don't waist time in preparing to begin. Having not fished this year, I leave my rod unstrung until the need arises. Initial observations reflect all is quiet, no signs of life.

I head upstream to an area that's a little more challenging to access in hopes my effort will leave me plenty of water to fish. A short distance should suffice knowing the habits of most anglers. Entering the water to cross, I pause to study the rivers surface for signs of any aquatic travelers. For now there appears to be none. Crossing an old trestle where mornings first rays perpetrate a growing window into a trouts world. I watch several decent Browns comfortably nestled in the depths of the rivers protective currents that on occasion alter their restive state to intercept a minute meal.

Crossing the river for a second time, I
again look for the midge hatch that I've heard about. An insignificant winged creature emerges and quickly departs the icy meniscus for life in a new found world. Several others, barely perceptible, follow in suit and take to flight. The game begins, yet will there be enough to lure these trout to the quieter pools to feed. Only time will tell.

It's still early yet much of the river lies before me bathed in sunshine. The mornings rays feel good, the air however yet crisp. Cautiously making my way up river, a trout rises and stops me in my tracks. I watch for a moment before quietly retreating to a lower vantage point with no sign confirming what I saw. Quietly entering the water a short distance downstream moments later another ring appears.

The cool currents creep into my bones as I patiently watch and wait. In the shadows the fish rises it's tail dimpling the waters still surface as it settles. Paying close attention to the growing number of midges now dancing across the currents I finally string my rod before selecting a hopeful imitation. A dark of snout delicately pierces the water and a cast is made, then another and another before I retrieve the fly. Another fish also rises within casting distance, yet I ignore the temptation knowing that the best opportunity lies just a short distance ahead. Inspecting a natural I change flies and again patiently wait not wanting to rush or spoil
possibly the days only opportunity. One never knows.

The rises are sporadic but consistent enough to pin the location of this fish with some confidence. I present the new offering. It's small, too small to see. No reaction from the fish has me making another cast. The dark nose again appears disrupting ever so slightly the waters placid surface. An audible sip is followed by a purposeful yet gently lift of the rod, the line comes tight. Although I suspect this to be a decent trout, it's a little larger than expected as it leaps into the sunlight before crashing back into the dark depths of the river revealing it ample proportions. It bores upstream removing what little slack I've held in my hand, then plays a short tune of beautiful reel music before eventually coming to hand. These fish have wintered well. Its plump yellow belly evidence of that. The fly is quickly removed and cordial respects are paid before this Brown slips back to his icy laird.

More fish are now working the pool I've started in. I bring one more to and then loose another on a strong run then leave to explore another section. The waters clarity affords an easy view of the numerous trout that inhabit this prolific river. Up river I bring two more to hand before reeling in to call it a day. Although I could of easily fooled several more trout, I'll leave the others for another day. These fish don't get much of a repreive and I'm grateful for my fortunes. Knowing this, I'd prefer to preserve the quality of my experience to be shared by others. After all, in reality adding to my tally would add little to the enjoyment that I experienced this morning.

I take some time to enjoy the quiet and appreciate the canyon before
reluctantly heading to work. Several Browns quietly rise to take the growing number of midges that are now scurrying across the waters surface. It's a view that will carry me through the remainder of my day, possibly lingering longer. Still no anglers have made the trek to share these waters. Tracks in the snow show signs that few have traveled before me since our last needed storm. The quiet walk is a fitting conclusion to the limited time I had, yet there was time to satisfy my cravings and surpass all expectation for any day, let alone the years first.

1 comment:

snake said...

HEE HEE HEE, Quiet! Don't tell anyone.