A Tough Go for an Afternoon

Yesterday, on my way back from a field trip to the south, I was toying with the lines of a poem. It was solidly late afternoon, with a dipping sun coloring the dried, grassy hills a buttery hue. The temperature was about right, with the window down and it felt like this might be one of the last real summer days.

The light moves across a life gone easy.

That was yesterday. Since a Sunday river trip was in order, and since life seemed solidly in the good zone… a routine trip would yield a few routine steelhead, thus rounding out an exceptional weekend in this life gone easy. You can see where this is leading…

The salmon have arrived BIG TIME and in the water around Little Argentina they were showing two, three or more at a time. I knew they were in when I pulled up to the water, an otherwise calm early afternoon, with gentle waves rippling the surface from fish porpoising throughout the long, slow water. A black bear scampered away down the far bank. But the sun beat down hard and warm and despite two passes through I could only manage one decent fish that parted ways on a great tarpon-like leap. It looked to be 18 inches or so, putting it in the super-pounder zone. That was all I could muster save for a few juveniles that I was able to release by throwing a loop into the line and hopefully minimizing any trauma.

I packed it up and went up to lower-most Ice Cream where the same story (minus grabbing fish) played out as the first shadows crossed the far bank. The bottom of this run, if not the top, is usually dependable for a mystery tug or two (like last year’s freight train that snapped me off before I could even put a bend in the rod). Nothing doing.

Down to Stuarts to try the semi-fishy tail water and cross over to the bridge riffle. Maybe one decent tug – maybe.

I should have left later and focused on an evening outing, but it is what it is…. One of those fish-off-the-bite days, but more importantly, I was off the bite. I had too many things whirling around my head and just wasn’t as dialed in as I could have been. Often, it seems that when things are clicking, there is a synergy of angler and river – it all seems to come together just like it was supposed to be. It just wasn’t there today. In short, I was out of synch.

Maybe I was taking it all for granted, not really wanting it enough. After all, I did leave the house thinking I should stay put, do some chores, maybe get downtown and socialize a bit. The river felt like more of an obligation – I just might miss something if I don’t go. Having said that though, I was thinking today that I hadn’t fished enough so far this year and that it was passing me by. Nothing new for me. I always do well early on, have a lull day or two, think I’ve missed it all, only to arrive at some other end, in a paradise world of fall, first rain and an entirely new place. Today felt more like getting whisked up and swept along, so then, maybe the next stop is where I arrive.

Oh hell, the fish just weren’t biting today.

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