I left the house a little before 6AM with a cup of coffee and navigated the short 15 minute drive through the early morning fog. The turnout by the stream was deserted, as it usually is this time of year and I sat on the back bumper of the truck to slip on my waders. The air was cool and damp and the mosquitoes began their attack immediately. A quick shot of bug spray would keep them from biting for a while. The black flies would be out later in the day, and while the spray keeps them from feeding on my flesh, it does nothing to prevent them from crawling under my glasses and leaping into my eyes. It’s just one of the hazards of a summer day afield.
I walked alone (as sufferers of CAS often do) along the footpath toward the sound of rushing water. At the stream's edge, I stopped by a large pool to string up my fly rod. The sun was up enough for me to see a few trout feeding lazily in the current, but the fog kept any more light than that from filtering through the tall pines. Most of the pool was guarded by the hulk of a fallen tree, in the water for so long only the largest branches were still attached. It was all but unfishable as I’d so clumsily learned the week before. A trout slashed at a tiny mayfly along the far bank, taunting me from the absolute safety of its woody cover. Still, I waded slowly into the pool within a rod length of several fish. Rather than cast, I dipped a tiny nymph as far upstream as I could reach and let it drift back into the tangle of limbs. I small split-shot dragged the fly to the bottom and I watched a trout confidently swim over and eat it. I set the hook and tried to horse the fish (as much as possible with a 3-pound test leader tippet) away from the sunken tree limbs. The fish would have none of it and the hook pulled loose almost as quickly as the fight began. Not a big deal. I was happy to have actually hooked a fish in that spot and knew from the beginning the chances of landing one here were slim at best. I waded out of the pool with a smile and moved on.
The fishing wasn’t exactly easy, but it wasn’t tough either. Most of the morning was spent casting nymphs to visible fish in the deeper shaded pockets of the creek. An 18” rainbow took honors as “big fish” for the day and an even bigger fish shook off shortly after being hooked, but the smallest trout was the one that made me smile the most.
More than a quarter century has past since my days of minnow-plunking exuberance. Surely these tiny aquatic jewels have passed by the wayside. Ah, but not so fast my friend. This day, as I gently unhooked a perfect 5” wild brook trout, the world around me looked its absolute brightest… and so was the grin on my face.
The outing was full of similar personal highlights. A great-horned owl watched me intently from a streamside pine before silently winging off down the creek. A young whitetail buck sporting small velvet-covered antlers stepped into the shallows 30 yards below me and drank from the stream. Once he noticed me standing there, he cautiously made his way around the bend and out of sight. As I was unhooking a nice trout and slipping it back into the water, I was overcome with the sweet smell of Mojitos. Mojitos?! It must’ve been a sensory blast from my bartending past and I soon realized I was standing in a small patch of wild mint. A glorious day, indeed!
It dawned on my as I picked my way through the briars walking back to the truck… my CAS is triggered by American popular culture and those loud, outrageous, idiotic things most others (so I'm told) seem to find entertaining (excluding of course, South Park). The further removed I am from all that mind-numbing noise, the better I feel.
Now, take two Mojitos and call me in the morning J