My finger still aches from the tear of dry fly line through the crease of my index finger as a fish grabbed hold. Another fish that I lost. I’ve entered the frustrating season. The first adult steelhead came unbuttoned as I was walking it to the bank. The second adult sang the reel, cartwheeling along the way only to break off far across the river. There’s NO EXCUSE for that. Operator error. I was saying dam…dam…dam… over and over again. Shuddering in my frustration. Then there were the long slow pulling grabs on the deep swing – I know those grabs – but I will never know what exactly was at the end of the line. A victim of missed fish. Again.
The wind stayed manageable after the brief rain swept through in the morning and early afternoon and the bite seemed best in the early afternoon. The run was full of porpoising salmon, so that kept it entertaining. Overall, it was a slow day – three passes through and a couple of grabs each time with a few halfpounders to hand. Grabs seemed few and far between. As the afternoon started to fade into early evening, things went slack and I headed for the barn a bit earlier than usual. But it will go down in my memory as a good day since memories have that way of compressing away all the slow times and shining on the moments of excitement. Two years from now it will be an afternoon of non-stop activity when, in fact, more than once I was on the verge of heading to other water. If it wasn’t for the fellow dawdling along the bank upstream where I wanted to cross, I would have left sooner and missed my opportunity with the two adult fish.