The shadows fall sharply between the poplar and pine this time of year. Tamaracks have just begun to lose their light green color, beginning to transfer to a light golden hue. There is a definite scent in the air, a smell of rot, decomposition, not altogether unpleasant, merely noticeable. I have associated the pungent odor with the decay of rust ferns and other detritus on the forrest floor. This trek in to the deep woods, across muck and beaver lodges have been made by many for decades, I have only begun to unravel the secrets of its chilly waters, but cherish each and every little discovery. Trout season closes on this particular section of water tomorrow, and each year I try to take the day to soak the last of it’s opportunities.
Daylight savings time takes place in a few weeks, so we have the luxury of fishing past five o’clock. There is a strong south wind, making most of our longer casts on 3 weights difficult, our only saving grace is the shorter roll cast we have become accustomed to in the woody northern streams. Streams and places like these are treasured by many for various reasons, I for one, enjoy the challenge of its puzzles and the escape from daily routine. There are few caddis sputtering around the small pools and eddies, not many risers. I came upon a rather sizable beaver dam and noticed a fish making a wake on a far bank near overhanging sand reed grass. Possibly chasing minnows or munching on baetis emergers? A perfect opportunity to watch and reflect. My partner was
downstream, she had already netted a surprise brown trout, not altogether uncommon, but a rarity. I tied on a small white marabou coachman streamer and made my way thru tall swamp grasses and cattails to get a better vantage point. The fish disturbed the surface again, further upstream along a seam and near an undercut. If it is a brook trout, it has some girth to it, most likely a twelve incher, maybe better. I wait, watch and ponder. How many times I have waded these waters? How many times it holds a new piece of the eternal crossword? I hope I never tire of the this journey. How many trips do I have back into hip deep muck filled beaver runs?
Knowing at my age, I am not the youngest wader clad individual in these parts, but not far from some of the eldest, I begin to reflect and compare our own lives journey with that of the river and season I am standing in the midst of. Seems lately, there have been many important figures in the fly industry who have graduated the the rivers beyond way before their time. Many anglers I have only made the brief acquaintance from fellow Trout Unlimited meetings to fellow FFF members and tying event attendees. The passing of Oscar Feliu last week and Julie Gates at the end of October, inspired to dig back to my last days chasing brookies. They both had welcoming smiles and a sparkle in each eye, welcoming people into their worlds one a time. I sat and watched Oscar tie a few of his flies, still searching my fly boxes for one of his signature upside down nymphs, his Desi Arnaz accent as he described his unique method of tying. Julie, always welcoming at Gate’s Lodge for many years before the last Days of Gator, both with hot coffee and warm hospitality on the famed Holy Waters. I am certain Oscar is singing concerto with a new choir in the sky and Julie is once again with Rusty, hopefully being doted on as they took care of many angler over the years.
How many more times do I get the privilege of hiking back in these woods to find wives and pools with unlearned mysteries? How many times can I share these magical moments, hatches so magnificent that fish rise to every cast, the promise of another better fish around the bend? I don’t know. Hopefully a few more years. But, as I focused on that fish I did not catch, nor see rise again, I have to close the chapter on yet another season. The river needs a few months to hibernate, and I can prepare for next year, looking forward to catching that fish again.