Saturday, September 6
Sleep always comes difficultly to me on the initial night of a camping trip. A small breeze sounds like a cyclone; a chipmunk grows exponentially in size; snapping twigs sound like falling timber; and the smallest rain conjurs up images of typhoons. I awakened this morning to the sounds of a 10 year-old who had no such difficulty getting a good night's sleep and his grandfather, who sees sleeping past 6 a.m. on a camping trip as a waste of imminent sunlight. I struggled to my feet, my back feeling just precisely the way it should after a night spent horizontal on solid ground, softened ever so slightly by a half inch of foam rubber "sleeping pad." Once vertical, I fought with the zipper on my tent's door and splashed some frigid water on my face.
Fire would soon warm my hands enough to blissfully reach for a steaming hot cup of coffee, brewed in a well-used metal percolator. My mood quickly improved at the sight of Cameron's campfire dance, some sort of morning aerobics routine he seems to have just invented.
After an enormous breakfast and some relaxation with family, feeling sufficiently warmed in temperature and spirit, I couldn't wait any longer. Trout were calling me from the river. Time to gear up. Having scouted a few spots the day before, I noticed a large holding area teaming with trout. They looked small, but they were devouring everything on the surface of the water. I tied on a size 14 Adams, liberally greased with "Gink," and gently placed the fly into the flat at the end of a strong run. Almost immediately, a quick flash of water consumed the Adams, so fast that I missed the hook.
I returned my fly to the same spot upstream, this time with my complete attention on the fly. Another quick flash. BOOM! Set the hook and felt a small but fierce little fighter dive deep underwater and run downstream. With any luck, in a few years he'll have some additional weight to him and give some other fisherman the thrill of a lifetime. Today, he got caught.
The fun lasted for about an hour, with fifteen or so similar results. None of the small rainbows measured more than 12 inches, but they fought with the ferocity so typical of the rainbow trout. It turned out to be great dry fly practice. By the end of the hour, they began to slow down as the sun reached its peak and the temperature rose. The perfect time to leave the pool for someone else and grab a quick bite of lunch.
It's a beautiful thing, this obsession of mine.