Once in a while, everything comes together.
As I walked back to my car, rod and reel in hand, I couldn’t help but smile. I’d only fished for an hour, but the weather had been pleasant enough and the fish had cooperated quite nicely.
I hadn’t fished in months, even though I’d desperately wanted to. Several times, I made plans to go, but something always came up — work, family responsibilities, foot and hip problems, you name it.
Bottom line, I needed a good outing.
A late-morning assignment in Wyoming County gave me a golden opportunity. At half past noon, I wrapped up my newspaper duties and pointed the nose of my car toward the Guyandotte River’s headwater tributaries.
A friend who fishes that area had pointed me to one particular stretch of one particular stream. It’s a small creek that flows through an equally small community. Cold, alkaline drainage from abandoned underground mines turn it into trout water. It’s not on any stocking list, yet it maintains a healthy population of wild rainbows and, as I understand it, some wild browns, as well.
About the time I parked alongside the stream, a storm front started blowing in. The sky clouded over and the wind kicked up. I smiled. A drop in barometric pressure usually puts fish in the mood to feed.
It did. In the very first riffle, my little dry fly got attacked half a dozen times by fish too small to pull it under. I figured they were chubs or shiners or something equally undesirable, but when one finally hooked itself, it turned out to be a rainbow not quite the length of my little finger.
Hey, at least it was a trout! Encouraged, I moved farther upstream in search of something a little more — how should I say this — substantial.
I found it in a waist-deep pool canopied by tree limbs and fed by three separate current tongues. The overhanging limbs forced me to cast sidearm, and the multiple currents made it really tough to get a drag-free float.
I threw negative-curve casts, positive-curve casts, check casts, reach casts, stack-mend casts and downstream-presentation casts, all in a pool no more than 25 feet long and 15 feet wide. My biorhythms must have been fully in sync, because nearly every cast went exactly where I wanted it to and gave me precisely the float I wished to achieve.
The first negative-curve cast drew a rise from a chunky 10-inch ‘bow, which put a nice deep bend into the little 3-weight rod. A reach cast brought an 8-incher to hand, and a downstream float along the far bank added a hard-fighting 12-incher to the tally. After I landed a second 10-incher, I really started feeling my oats.
The last presentation, a cross-stream check cast followed by a pair of stack mends, created a perfect float down the far current seam. A 15-incher took the fly without hesitation, and the fight was on.
The fish tore the pool apart. It dashed upstream and down, jumping clear of the water at each change of direction. On its last jump, the fly pulled out.
Or so I thought. When I inspected the end of the leader, I found a series of telltale curlicues — clear evidence that the clinch knot that attached the fly to the tippet had slipped.
I reeled in my line, broke down the little 5-piece rod and walked back to the car. I hadn’t fished long, but I’d fished enough. I’d found a productive new stream and I’d had a bit of success.
All in all, not a bad day. I can’t wait for the next one.