Working with the wind is an attitude as much as a technique. For years, a windy day frustrated me, and that frustration carried over into the rest of my fishing and made for worse drifts, mends, and hook sets. In short, a windy day on the river tended to slowly burn my patience fuse and put me in a bad mood. Now I try to look at the wind for what it is – another problem to solve. And I work with the wind to keep me tied to the river and my environment.
“What fly you tying on?” It is a question asked on every day of fishing with my brother. He asks me, or I ask him. Sometimes we ask because we expect one knows more. Sometimes because an unexpected fly piques curiosity. Sometimes I ask, so I know what fly to switch to after watching him fight a fish upstream and out of earshot. I wonder if he caught that on his…
Nymphing had been good that morning. Enough takes and a few landed fish combined with being back on the South Platte River in surprisingly relative solitude made the sun seem a little warmer on my skin. When the blue winged olives began lifting in clusters across the river, I was reminded of how picky the trout can be on the South Platte and began slipping slowly into soft head shaking head and a smile that was part frustration and part commitment to figure these fish out.
I knew the ending as soon as he started. The longer his story, the harder I laughed.
It felt good to be fishing and catching fish.
Sheets of light sliced through cracks in the steep rock walls and cut through clouds of insects above the river. Thousands of dull blue-grey wings sparkled in and out of the rays shifting through the shadows. Sometimes a breeze carried warmth from where the sun still hit the grass outside canyon to where I waded in the cool evening air.
“Pop! A fish!” It startled me. He waded only a few yards ahead. The river barely reached his tiny shins. We had fished this stretch most of the morning because of it. I was focused on the bend in the river and working out my plan to set him up where the shallow riffle reached a ledge and faster water from the outside flowed in to make a place trout would hold.
A wince. Perhaps a groan. And then another cast. “Ahhh. That was a fish.” We have all missed a trout we were not expecting. Unprepared. Distracted. Complacent. But there are two times it happens that should not surprise us. Two parts of the drift that are sometimes forgotten. Forgotten by us, but not the trout.