First of April.

There must’ve been thirty turkeys in a field along the river, the most I’d seen in one place in years. A couple toms out there, fanned, strutting. Where the highway turned to gravel I startled another one, watched it run fifty yards down the road before taking off, into the pines. I parked and ate an early lunch, listening to birds, trying to get better at their calls.

It’s a respectable creek when running bank-full, and I worked downstream with a woolly bugger (really an egg-sucking leech, but we needn’t split hairs), hitting undercuts and logjams. The first two fish com unbuttoned in the fast current, and an overzealous rainbow winds up foul-hooked in the operculum.

I stretch out on the sunny rock bar fifty yards downstream and open a beer, watching the waterthrush that’s shadowed me all afternoon, keeping tabs on his territory. Plain bird, pretty song- one of those small subtle sparks in a landscape just waking up from winter, the kind of thing that’s overlooked when success is chalked up to numbers and inches.

When I’m ready I make the cast, upstream and across, letting the fly tumble through the scour. I can feel him tapping at it down there, watch his dark form materialize as the bug begins its swing, shallow enough to see his gills flare.

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