A mist hovered near the surface, making the trees look like a faded black and white photograph.
Soon, the sun rose above the trees and burned the mist away. It felt good on my back as I waded up river to my favorite fishing spot.
I’d forgotten my wading stick, which helps me maintain balance as I walk across rocks slicker than teflon sprayed with WD-40, so the journey up river took about twice as long as normal.
I’m not a master fisherman by any stretch of the imagination, but I know the difference between a rainbow trout and a catfish, and that’s because through the years I’ve fished a lot.
But this morning, an impartial witness would have sworn that I’m a rookie who couldn’t catch a trout in an aquarium with a fishing net.
The first cast and my line turned into a rat’s nest. I couldn’t have tied better knots with an instruction manual.
I was trying to untangle the mess, while all around me trout flopped out of the water like trained dolphins. If the wind had been blowing, I could easily have blamed the snafu on that, but it was still as a crypt.
I had to cut the leader off with my pocket knife and start from scratch.
There was a Great Blue Heron on the far bank getting ready to catch his breakfast, and I thought I heard him chuckle at my misfortune. It was a good thing for him that I’m not that good a hunter either.
Last year, I usually caught trout soon after I started fishing but not this time. Experience has taught me that if I don’t get any action on one fly, I try another one until I figure out what they have an appetite for.
I tried wet flies, dry flies, streamers and nymphs. At one point, I got so desperate I would have used a stick of dynamite if I’d had one.
In the past I’ve said, “It’s not the fish, but the fishing that’s important,” but I was lying. I wanted to catch a fish.
I lost five flies in the three hours I spent on the water. Last year, I didn’t lose five flies total.
The morning was getting away from me, and I had afternoon appointments, so I headed toward the truck. I kept casting as I slowly made my way down stream.
All of a sudden, wham! A rainbow struck, and I landed it. I removed the barbless hook and released it in the swift current. It was all I could do to keep from kissing that fish before I let it go.
My luck has changed, I thought triumphantly as I smiled to myself. The next cast hung on a rock in the middle of the river and I lost another fly.
I reeled my line in and headed for the truck before I fell in the river. Sometimes you just have to know when to quit.