It’s hot. Our long, cool spring finally broke into the nineties. I’ll want a beer or two for the creek, stopped three different places, picking over the leftovers of commencement weekend. Hazy, too- maybe the hills drying out, new green growth transpiring, maybe smoke drifting in on southern winds from early season wildfires out in New Mexico.
Four inches of rain fell over five days this week, sending streams out of their banks and putting smallmouth bass plans on hold. Even this little creek’s running bank-full; mine are the first footprints in the gravel and sand.
I figured a heavy yellow woolly bugger would get down where I needed. I have a thing for yellow woolly buggers, with olive tails and olive hackles. It was the first pattern I remember tweaking, changing shades to look a little more like the stoneflies and golden-yellow crayfish found in the local creeks.
The first fish was a surprise, the line pausing halfway through the drift. A second came ten yards down, then its twin, crashing on the fly as I lifted it to cast again. I switched to a big dry just in case, but nothing lashed at it. I sat in the shade on a gravel bar, opened a beer, and wondered what makes a good day. An unexpected fish or two? A couple to hand when a skunk is more likely? I once had a conversation- not quite an argument- with an angler boasting about the one-hundred and fourteen fish he caught in a day. Did he remember each one? Relish each one? What deeper insight was learned at fifty or a hundred that he hadn’t known at five or ten?
I’ve always felt four or five fish suits me just fine, and I lost track counting between seven and eight, so that’s probably in the ballpark. There’s a lot more good-looking places when the water’s high, and I fished methodically the rest of the afternoon until I lost the last of my yellow woolly buggers.
I sat on another gravel bar, opened another beer, listened in on the vireos and warblers. Admired wild sweet william and white violet and my own first footprints in the sand.