I needed something. A moment, brief as it may be, but just some time away. The media, the divided country, phone calls, yard work/bathroom remodel/travel/guide trips/Covid-19/plans for fall- it had me dizzy, spiraling. I took my opportunity and hit the river, solo mission. Zero agenda. No promotional attaché’. Just me and my 3 weight FSG. It was neither great nor disappointing. The trout were there, and played along with every well-placed lime Humpy or Yeager’s purple 309. Nothing miraculous- a few that could stretch and make the 10″ mark but most were in the 7-8″ range, yet spunky and voracious. I also needed a reason to sit down and reflect and share.
The flowers and aromas reminded me of why we need to get out and adjust our mindset. Vibrant purple, yellows and varied hues of green adorn the river along my self-induced defrag session. Around some corners, the Joe Pye and sedum were heavy and strong, weighed down from the morning’s precipitation. The next bend has a nice deep run with a few logs in it. The fresh rain has added the slightest influx to a series of feeder channels along my route and often a trout will wait for fresh appetizers to appear on the evening’s special menu. All I have to do is navigate the dogwood behind me and manage a reach cast around a couple snags and plop my dinner feature in the feeding lane. It takes a minute, but in that time, I sense all that is right in this place- solitude, sounds, smells and trout. Even the brook trout smell fresh, cold and healthy, as if I was some form of piscatorial doctor- they ‘smell healthy’ to me. The froth of fresh rain adding to the watershed reminds me of youthful days, waterfall & beaver dam hopping in Ontario, catching as many trout as we possibly can because the ACR has scheduled to dynamite the dam that is bigger than a football field lest it break in a storm and wash out the railroad trestle on its way to Trout Lake.
The eager trout takes my fly even before it has a chance to test its buoyancy. Not a monster, but a delight to see a juvenile steelhead pounce and display his acrobatics at the end my fiberglass rod. This isn’t “client” water, not saying I haven’t brought certain individuals in to share these sacred spots, but more often than not, it doesn’t fish well with more than one angler and most clients who call are either looking for fish that measure in pounds rather than in inches. That’s ok. I have had good days with clients on Tricos and BWOs/hoppers- it is always cold and the fish will play. But much has changed. Gone are many deeper runs where a dozen fish could hide from anglers or overhead predation. Silt and sand have replaced many slots.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ~Heraclitus
The peace of my adventure was only momentarily interrupted when I fell into a beaver hole. I recalled that over a year ago there were several beaver dams in this mile stretch of water. A multitude of hiding holes and runs for hundreds of trout. Over 30 beaver dams have been removed by local watershed organization. Right or wrong? Doesn’t matter, the organization claims “Connectivity” for better brook trout spawning, and studies from a private section of water on the other side of the state somehow validate removal without public input or consideration. I get excited when I see a beaver dam old or new. There was a time when I was President of MVWTU and wanted every beaver dam on the Maple River removed, eradicated. Many conversations with Dr. Burroughs from MITU has me thinking on different levels. There is a balance in nature. Trout and beavers have lived for 100’s of years in symbiotic harmony, the structure acts as a sediment catch as well as refuge for a multitude of animals in all seasons- especially summer when water levels are low. The bottom draws offer refuge for trout and fish extremely well. The topside can be a hotel for many trout to reach a respectable size- and often do. I am sure there are a few anglers who come in here with an ultralight & Panther Martin or a long rod and redworm rig to bring home dinner. If I were to measure my day on those standards- I had two keepers, dropped my Therma-Cell and had a decent time. But- if I were to measure my day on Catch & Release angling standards- I had the opportunity to dance and tangle with well over a dozen trout, the biggest at 10.5″, reset my internal tolerance for the less fortunate, and inhaled the beauty of a late summer day in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. It was a great afternoon in the valley.
This summer has been crazy. Hex season, Big fish lost, a few days with Janis from MeatEater, catching up with many clients, meeting new ones, new Adipose this fall. Stay tuned. Share. Stay Positive. Live happy, everyday.