A "Real" Fishing Trip
One of the biggest problems with outdoor writing is the traditional idea that only positive results make for good reading. Therefore, if you are searching for a story that ends with 30 pounds of fillets, you might want to just head over to social media and find out all the latest dirt on Bruce Jenner's genitalia.
Though I have fished good and fine and honorably for three days, I have yet to have so much as a serious strike. While this is certainly not my worse personal record for early April, the lack of cooperation among stream residents has been somewhat frustrating. However, the frustration has been a mellow, talk-show host kind of frustration that is merely a bullet point of life rather than the full-blown pique that sometimes arises in later weeks.
Today's trip was a big zero in the meat department but it certainly rated highly on other scales. In terms of weather alone it almost seemed criminal to spend time working when such pleasant temperatures were rampant, so I did the only logical thing and called in sick.
April is such a variable month in Indiana. One day the temperature might reach 80 and within 36 hours it can be snowing, which altogether seems a reasonable justification for playing hooky.
Today was a perfect example of a day you dream about in mid-winter. The temperature reached nearly 70, humidity was comfortable, the sky a deep blue and the bug population yet to arise from its winter slumber. The T-shirt, shorts and slip-on deck shoes I wore felt like a new skin. The drive towards the creek was done with windows down and radio blasting, highlighting the first rule of exceptional outdoor trips: have good music.
In my case, a range of southern rock music filled my SUV with tunes of the open road and living life as a rambler. This kind of music sets a perfect backdrop when you are alone and the wind is in your hair for the first time in many months as you roll down the highway to adventure. Howling and pounding along with the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker straightway turned my mood higher that the wispy cumulus clouds riding the clear wind.
The creek was rambunctious and spirited as I stepped into waders and assembled my fly rod. The water was running in hues of blue, teal and turquoise like spilled paint in the gutter, presaging difficult fishing because when the water is so picturesque, the angling is usually tough.
Today proved that old wisdom again. Only a few small fish even dared follow the flies that grew periodically smaller with each change as I tried to find something that would draw an attack. I gave up the cutting and knotting routine after two hours when it became apparent that the real gamefish were still tucked under rocks and cutbank, waiting.
If the fishing was rotten, I didn't care. It felt good to stand in warm wind and sunshine to work out the kinks in the flyrod, the first casts feeling like a cat stretching after a nap. The net result of the day was just two wind knots in the new leader and only one fly that took up permanent residence in the top of a maple tree. From a technique point of view, things went well.
There were other good things to see. Taking a shortcut through the woods above the creek, I found that few wildflowers taking the temporary bait of warm weather. One small buckeye sapling was alone in having unfolded its leaves while the lavender buds of Virginia Bluebell could be seen tucked inside the waxy blue-green leaves, ready to explode on an unseen cue.
A pair of Canada geese had set up housekeeping in one long pool of slack water and honked wildly at my slow approach. We will eventually clash when the weather is better and I want to fish in their nursery, but not today.
I took a break on a fallen log to admire the landscape and colors and birds and life itself, soaking up sunshine like a lizard until it was finally time to head home. On a whim and because I have trout dreams, I decided to examine the undersides of several rocks in the rapids. It was pleasing to see many different mayfly nymphs scurrying about on their now upside-down and sunlit home. Mayflies are a sign that the water is still relatively clean, an important consideration in "my" creek. They are also the most stylish of insects when resting on your arm.
Even without fish it was a full and enriching day spent in the water. Nothing truly momentous happened but after a long winter's nap, such a cheerful day massaged out the soreness that had been aching since October.
But now I want some meat.