The air is damp and cold and there's a thick fog settled over everything. I wondered to myself why I even bothered with blow drying my hair this morning, the mist has dampened it already. Despite a silent protest I've pulled on my waders. Wild water is not the place for waders, they're bulky and get in the way. But, spring has just arrived and the water is still cold. It's been a long, cold winter spent away from these waters and I've been waiting to get back to them. Little mountain streams, high up, filled with ambitious brook trout have been calling to me for months.
I always linger a bit behind on the hike to the river. I let the guys dash ahead. I know this trail and this stream, I don't need anyone to guide me. There's a mist coming off the wet, moss covered rocks, or maybe that's just the fog, I can't be sure. Everything is starting to turn green again, the death of winter is starting to fade away, strangled out by new life.
As expected, the water is cold, slightly off colored; it's rainy season. Slowly the air starts to get a little warmer and the sun starts to peak out. This is when the magic happens here in the mountains. At first, they're small, probably a size 24 or 26, dancing off the water. Soon they become larger and more pronounced, wings and tails and... Yup, there it is! A ripple on the surface!
Fly boxes are eagerly pulled from vests and packs and pockets, we've all seen that ripple. BWO patterns are tied on, some with a small nymph underneath. Or, if you're a narcissist like me, you attach two dry flies; one the spotter and one so small you can barely see it, but I'm betting the fish will.
I continue to linger. Turning over rocks and watching the ripples on top of the water. I know the guys are here to catch the fish and show off and prove their skills, but that's not why I'm here.
I'm here, on this river, to remind myself that I fish for me. I fish double dry's to brook trout no bigger than my hand because it's what I love.
Up ahead there's a big pool right below a small waterfall, there's fish in there, I know it! I'm not sure how long it's been since these fish have had flies thrown at them, but the water is calm enough now and I can still see small ripples. This hole is one of the few places you can do more than a roll cast without a laurel reaching out to grab your fly. I take full advantage. My rig hits the water softly, barely a ripple. That was one of my better casts and I silently hope it pays off. Seconds later I see my "indicator" fly sink. As I gently set the hook I realize this is not my typical brook trout. I can see that bright orange fin sparkle even in that deep pool. There's only a size 22, de-barbed fly stuck in that big, brookie mouth, on 7x tippet, all attached to a 3 weight rod and an angler that's far too eager to fight this fish smartly. A brief flash on the surface proves that this fish is not a great size to "hand-land," and it's far stronger than most in this river. I wonder how the guys missed this one? I would have heard someone hollering if they'd gotten it.
I caught up with everyone right as they started to pull out their lunch and beers. I asked if they'd seen that one brook trout. Turns out they had, none of us had landed him, but I was lucky enough to get him to bite. It was that double dry combination, I knew it.