Spring Celebrant Episode I
Number of things to note as spring rolls around. Household things dealing with plants, compost and good dirt and kids spending more time out and about. World greening up a bit. Grapevines starting to show furry buds. A lot going down. And it's been a long time coming. After that long winter... being subjected to continuous rain, snow, cold in April and May. Has a guy down now and then. Especially when he reminisces on spring 2010, when April was lit up with all kinds of good stuff. So when the sun finally does shine down and things start to unfurl a person feels good. Many dimensions to it. But I guess in this forum the notes worth sharing pertain to fishing. So here are a few, derived from some recent episodes in the good woods.
Found this path and was struck by the river valley and how old and deep it is. And something that can't be communicated by pics too well: the greening of the forest floor. Coming up through the leaf litter. I always note to my kids that trees go back to dirt. We like to tout trees as completely renewable and thus usable for whatever we want. Complexity there for sure. And in the scheme of things: wood is a desirable material for folks to use. But when you see the green coming up through the litter embodied in the organic material that was a year or two ago leaves or maybe a few decades ago tree wood, you are reminded that extraction of trees from a forest is a mining operation. Organic matter held in various forms. Etc. etc.
I think I got to the river around 815 AM. It was May 1st. It was snowing. That's how it was. My wife uses facts like that to spurn discussions regarding moving away from MN. I admit it was mildly frustrating because what a guy wants to see is bug life: he wants to observe insects hatching and fish eating and take part in that to the extent possible. He doesn't want to just catch a fish. So tying on flies with fingers that were rapidly slowing down... I was my normal grumpy self. Bitching about this or that in my head. It was gray and cold and dark and no bugs were to be seen so the fly of choice was a #6 Tombstone Shadow, trailed by some generic nymph. Moved some fish right away. I was on the take too, being that I wanted some fish protein and figured I should bind some more of my family's cellular construct to that of the stream. I figure that's a good bond and therefore I justify crushing skulls of salmo trutta and a brief respect paid. Interesting to note that all fish kept on this day showed only chironomids in their stomachs.
Hit a major lull up to maybe 1015 AM. Just nothing going. I started questioning my rigs: was I down far enough, was the streamer to bulky and water resistant and sinking fast enough, etc. Looking back on it, the fish I did move or catch reacted to strips and aggression... the dead drifts just weren't doing anything. Likely the case that the fish simply weren't really active that early on a cold drab shitty morning. Translated: I should have stayed home and made breakfast for the family instead of stealing away at 530 AM.
Fish did start to come though. Couple beauties here, both too big to keep. The second fish was right around 16 inches according to the rod reference note made on the stream. This fish ate and orange scud trailing the streamer, on a dead drift.
The fish are beautiful, but what I've been more fascinated with lately is the water from which they come. The situations. Pictured below is the drift that turned up these two fish. I think I fished that riffle first and got maybe a fish or two. Then waded across to that nice soft edge adjacent to the woody debris. Cast up to the head and mended to let rig sink... drift on through there, maybe a jolt or twitch to get attention. Sweet water.
And then right at this water, someone called out to me. I had picked up a visual on a tall guy in white, fishing behind me. Made me hurry a bit, both because I like solitude and because I wanted to give him some space. Turns out this guy was fishing with WFF, and they approached me just after I had methodically put these four drifts across this nice water, in succession going away from me each produced one fish.
I liked the fact that the person I'd run into on this day was WFF. 36,000 acres or so and we were the only people on it. We caught up. Strategized a bit. Shared some food and then were on our respective ways. On the way out, I didn't fish much. More of a spring walk. Still gray and cool but now much more tolerable. Trout lillies, wild ginger, nettles coming on. Back home for late lunch.