I'm beginning to learn - finally - that they're a part of life. If there's one thing I know for certain, it's that the only thing that won't change in life is that life will be a constant series of changes. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results just doesn't work. This beauty proved it to me today.
Fall seems to have come to Colorado in a sudden burst of cool air, turning leaves, and mosquito-free sunsets. Nowhere was it more apparent than on the river today. The water felt markedly colder to me, and was noticeably lower than just a week ago. One of the neat things about the stretch of river we've visited over the summer is that it provides consistent challenges for admittedly amateur anglers such as myself. Spots that were raging with water just two weeks ago are now too shallow to fish well, while stretches that were previously too deep to even reach now teem with trout feeding on the surface on caddis and mayfly hatches, making them ideal for honing dry fly skills.
Today took me way out of my comfort zone. As I've written previously, I've become an almost full-time nympher over the summer, and I think my success at polishing my nymphing skills has caused my dry fly prowess to suffer (not that it was all that great to begin with). Today I just didn't have a choice. My favorite stretches of river from the summer were too shallow to be fishable. The riffles, pockets, and eddies that were so fruitful last month were non-existant today. I grew frustrated as nymph after nymph became hung up on rocks or sticks, and finally came to grips with the fact that I was going to have to work harder today to catch something. Out came the dreaded dry flies. It's not that I don't enjoy fishing dries, it's just that I have to concentrate on so many different things: watching the fly; mending just enough to keep a natural float without sinking the fly; placing it in the right spot; and being quick enough to hook on sight.
After trying a number of different patterns - an Irresistable, Wyoming Renegade, BWOs, and even a big ol' hopper - I went to an Elk Hair Caddis, the last dry in the small flybox attached to the lanyard around my neck. There was plenty of surface action, but I just couldn't seem to pitch the right bug out. Finally, just as I finished tying on the Caddis, a fish launched into a ferocious rise, consuming whatever prey happened to be there for the taking. "What the heck," I thought to myself, and threw the Caddis out as close as possible to the remaining ripples from the rise.
Much to my delight, he took it. And much to my surprise, my reflexes were instant. 20 minutes later, I pulled the worn-out rainbow out of the water for the obligatory photo. A beautiful, fat, 20 inch trout.
Sure, it's a fishing lesson. You have to adapt to the water, the insects, the sunlight, and the temperature. Sometimes, you can simply get in the water and start dragging nymphs along the bottom. Sometimes, you have to stalk, doing everything possible to minimize your presence on the water. As I walked down the bank of the river to check on Dad and Chris, it suddenly struck me that it wasn't just a fishing lesson, but a good one for life as well.
I used to question God quite a bit in my life. I had no doubts about his power, his omniscience, or his love for mankind. Yet I have to confess that I often allowed myself to get angry at him. Why would he allow unpleasant things to happen? Why wouldn't he simply answer my prayers?
I think I'm coming to understand that God allows us to make our own choices in life, and sometimes he tests our mettle when those choices lead us down the wrong path. How will we respond? Will we keep nymphing, even when it has no chance of working, or will we embrace the challenge and reach for the dry fly when we're least comfortable in doing so?
The glass was half full today. Gotta start applying that perspective away from the river a little more often.
As David Bowie once said (or sang, rather): Turn and face the strange...changes.