My return to the Poudre yesterday was a triumphant one, at least by my standards. It's been a summer long on heat and high water, and short on days pursuing the primary source of joy in my life. Joy came roaring back in spades yesterday. Unless you happen to be an unfortunate young badger. Huh? Keep reading. I'll come back to that in a minute.
Like most good things that happen in my life, my quest for river dominance began with modest humility. The initial drifts were marked by rust as I struggled to mend the line correctly and drive the bright, shiny bead head nymph through an obvious holding lie. The complexion of the river has changed, too. The sheer volume of water that's made its way down from the mountains over the past two months has added structure where there was previously none, forming new eddies, holes, and fast riffles that all seemed unfamiliar on a very familiar stretch of water.
One nice thing about fly fishing is that after you do it for awhile, habits form. When your line stops and takes a nosedive, you kind of know how to respond. A small brown provided a preview of what would come later in the day.
In perfect progression, the remainder of the day proved to be one of the most diverse fly fishing experiences I've ever had, with nothing resembling pattern or predictability. I caught fish on the surface, and I caught fish dragging nymphs along the bottom. I caught browns, rainbows, and cuttbows on pheasant tails, princes, yellow sallies, royal humpies, caddis, and two hopper patterns.
After fighting and losing what looked like the fish of the day, Doc had a slow morning followed by a stellar afternoon. It never takes him too long to get into the act, and yesterday was no exception.
As if the fish weren't excitement enough, my heart took quite a jolt just after landing and releasing my final trout of the day. I took a few steps through the water, so enamored with my surroundings as to be oblivious to them. Some inner voice told me to look down before I waded any further. Along with a glance at the rock just beneath my descending right foot came the realization that it wasn't a rock at all, just a petrified mass of teeth, fur, and paws adorned with a dressing of flies:
|BADGER OR ALIEN? YOU TELL ME!|
Not what I was hoping to see, to say the least. As I pondered whether it was a badger, tasmanian devil, or simply a yet-to-be-discovered mystery creature from the depths of the Poudre, I of course had to snap a photo. Doc watched with a look of either amusement or curiosity - I'm not sure which - and shook his head. I could almost hear him silently quoting the wise words of Hank Hill, one of animated television's great minds. The boy ain't right!
Grotesque carnage aside, we said goodbye to the river for the day, but not before receiving a send-off from a handsome couple, the most gracious of hosts. They watch us closely, but never intrude.
We climbed in the truck having satisfied some primal need that I can't explain. I realized how long a month can be in the mind of an angling-obsessed trout freak. Yesterday fulfilled a need that couldn't be satisfied by slinging hoppers to bluegill and crappie, or even ambling along in a float tube on a lake filled to the brim with trout. I belong in the stream, as one-dimensional as that may sound, and it's good to be back where I belong.
Here's to self-awareness...