This morning should have been like any other. Kill the alarm and hate life for the first five minutes as my body begrudgingly catches up to the will of ambition. Coffee helps. So does the routine, because the inevitability of repetition and pattern seems certain. It cannot be challenged. So, no, you cannot go back to bed. Go fishing.
The in-home tasks went as per usual. But looking back, things started downhill when I left breakfast on the counter. Instead of picking up the English muffin with my coffee mug, I put the dog’s collar in that hand. And fifteen minutes down the road I realized that I’d be hungry all morning. So be it.
While lacing up my wading boots, I came face to face with the horrible mosquitoes. Seven in the morning, and they were already on the feed. In the swampy, wooded area I’d chosen, the blood suckers were just doing their job at the end of August. But I hadn’t considered that. I’d only thought of the spring water that seeps out of the bank for about two hundred yards of river, so I’d chosen to fish here. All that and the weeks of rain are what created the swamp. Live and learn.
I geared up quickly, and I chose to swat the mosquitoes instead of spray for them. Bad idea. Half way down the narrow path, the relentless bastards were winning the battle, so I reached behind and fumbled through three compartments in my vest — zipping and digging while moving forward. I was afraid to stop for fear of the mosquitoes overwhelming me. I did find a small bottle of bug spray. I used it, on the move, and carelessly sprayed a bit in my right eye. Not too bad, but enough for the sting to last a while.
With River (my Australian Shepherd) by my side, we broke from the path toward the sound of rushing water. But I chose the direction poorly, and we were forced to climb over recent blow-downs covered by twisting vines. To River, this was nothing. But a man on two legs simply cannot match the agility of a good shepherd. I fell once, but recovered quickly — mosquitoes again were the motivator. And just as the sting of DEET in my eye wore off, I replaced that pain with a different one, by grazing my left hand against a stand of stinging nettles. Of course I did.
Once on the water, I dunked my burning hand into the cold river, flowing somewhere in the range of fifty-five degrees. That felt great, so I cooled down and shed the excess humidity by kneeling in the water. I kept my head low, trying to rid myself of the swarm of mosquitoes for good. It worked . . . mostly.
As I rose to my feet, I bumped the clamp on my hemostats and watched them fall through the current. Luckily, I recovered the black pliers in fast water, mostly with determination and a stubbornness to save a little money.
Of course, the rig I’d used last night was nothing like what I wanted to use this morning, so I took the time to change leaders and build a tippet section. The remaining mosquitoes introduced a challenging game. Twice, I watched a bug land on my knuckle, ready to bite as I tied a knot. Should I finish the knot, or should I let go, swat the bug and start over? Each time, I chose to prioritize the knot and finish the turns. The bugs drew blood. I got my revenge, but I paid with an itch.
A half hour into fishing, I’d caught two small fish — which was fine. This area gets hit hard by catch-and-keep anglers. So it’s a good excuse and something nice to tell yourself when you don’t catch many trout here. Nevermind all the times that I’ve done extremely well for wild trout in this same water. Put those memories away. That’s not important right now.
A fly change was in order, so I clipped the Walt’s and leafed through my fly box. Two dislodged flies fell in the water when I opened the box. I sighed, and reached for a Green Weenie. While I tied it on, River walked in front of me, catching my leader and pulling the tippet from my hand. When I relocated the tippet, I missed threading the hook eye, and the fly dropped from my hands as I tried to finish the knot. But, thankfully, I could see the chartreuse fly. So I spent the next two minutes with my left arm submerged to my shoulder, trying to pluck the green worm from the riverbed, judging and adjusting through the refraction of water and staying hopeful. Each time I got close, the currents swirled around my hand. They picked up the chenille fly and took it further downstream, over and over. If nothing else, it was a good lesson on how the unbeaded GW drifts with such attraction. I did recover the fly. And my arm was numb when I stood up.
A few casts later, I put the whole rig in a tree. Of course I did. Clearly unrecoverable, I broke off and spent the next few minutes tying knots again.
I fished for about three hours. And I did find a rhythm a few times. I caught trout. But the mistakes and misfortunes piled up quicker than the fish count. I sat with River for a minute, but the mosquitoes returned in short order.
Of course they did.
In truth, I rushed the upstream side of the section because I knew it was one of those days when things weren’t going my way. But I followed through and made it to the top.
I also got a bunch of bad mojo off the books. Hopefully the slate is clean for tomorrow.
** Donate ** If you enjoy this article, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N