It started with a walk. When the short gravel-to-dirt trail melted into weeds and underbrush, I followed the narrowing path into the woods. And when that too ended beside the small river, I cut to the right and forged my own trail beside the water’s edge.
Abundant cold rains and a cloudy spring season had postponed much of the life to be found in mid May, and I noted the delay everywhere. I walked through budding ferns, with expectant tops waiting to unfold at the next peak of sunlight through the shadows. And where there was green, it was new — fresh-faced, clear and vibrant, standing out in contrast against the dark wet bark and a forest floor of decaying maple leaves.
And after walking for miles over those wet leaves drenched with weeks of rain, I finally remembered the fly rod in my hand.
It wasn’t hard to find a piece of perfect water. The river flowed at the peak of what it can hold and still be called fishable. And yet the color remained murky — not quite dirty — and well suited to hiding the casts and the moving silhouette of a fisherman.
The pockets and undercuts were full of eager fish, no doubt undisturbed by the usual springtime crowd of anglers. The fair weather fishermen had mostly remained home in these long months, waiting for the rain to pause. All the while these trout fed with abandon, seizing their opportunity for an easy feed and full bellies.
The fishing was fast enough that I moved upstream quickly. Instead of holding to a spot where trout rose for my fly, I followed a desire to explore and learn where else they may rise. And I walked.
The rain started again, just as I broke through a dense canopy of towering hemlocks. Then I skirted the edge of a long narrow clearing and watched sheets of rain slice through a low shelf of fog ten feet above the grassy earth.
It rained, and I kept walking.
It felt solemn. But I found fulfillment in the somber tone. The rain rolled down my hat and seeped under the thick collar of my vest, until eventually, also waterlogged, the collar gave up its job as gatekeeper, and cool streams of water ran down the skin of my back.
I kept walking because the river pulled me along with its endless mystery — what exactly is around the next bend? Under a heavy rain and around the fallen timber of a wide floodplain, I made a steady pace, with no destination in mind but upstream.
Then finally, hours later and at the end of something I’ll never understand, I knew I was done. Satisfied, I walked out under clearing skies, with a strong spring sun making its space over the western horizon.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N