Monday, June 9, 2014

The Magic Hour

You wouldn't know it from looking at this blog lately, but I have actually done some fishing this season. It's been an amazing springtime that has been jam packed with quality time with family, friends, and the rewarding new job of being a father- but fishing is still ever present in the back of my mind. It's just so much harder to find the time for it these days. I've managed a couple great fishing trips that were meaningful because one was with my brother, who I don't get to see often enough, and the other on the Delaware with a good friend who is slowly succumbing to the addiction that is fly fishing. Seeing him catch his first brown on the fly was better than catching one myself. My brother and I both had a fishless day, but we visited a gorgeous stretch of the Roundout that felt like being in Montana. The only fish we saw were a pod of tightly stacked up carp, who wouldn't touch the flies we put in front of them. I don't think I recruited another addict that day, but he did say "I can see why you like this so much".

This being mid-June, it's about time for the long awaited sulphur arrival. It's the hatch we wait for all year around here and the word is out. I saw a window of opportunity for a quick session on Friday evening and made a beeline to the stream that's a sure thing right about now. When I got there I was pleasantly shocked to discover an empty pull off. This place is no secret. It's been a long time since I could string up a rod on the roadside knowing exactly what fly to tie on and feeling certain I was about to hook at least one trout. I had it force myself not to sprint down to the spot I had been daydreaming about for months. I took my time, sort of, and walked up on rising trout and the sounds of birds settling into the evening. And the sulphurs were there too, some being chased by the swallows. It was like a waking dream, everything was exactly as I had thought it would be. In photography, the time when the sun begins to set is called the "magic hour" because of the beautiful and fleeting quality of the light. The same is true for this time on a stream. Not only is the fading light magical, but you can see and hear all of the creatures stirring and emerging from their hiding spots, including the fish. And of course the bugs come out... the trout had already gotten into the action and were rising up and down the stream, sipping on fluttering sulphurs and caddis. My second cast met with a small trout. It look little time to land and release it. I paused to tie on a fresh fly and wait for the water to settle until the fish would rise again. It didn't take long. As it got darker, and I caught more trout, they rose constantly and carelessly as the insects multiplied. It seemed like everything on the stream was taking advantage of this narrow window of time. I had a headlamp, but it was becoming too dark to see my fly among the rises. Instead of "one more cast" it was "one more fish" and it didn't take long to meet that goal. I walked back through the dark woods, taking my time now, just listening to splashing fish and the birds.