Dappled light filters in through the branches of an over hanging tree and reflects in golden stars on the rivers water. It takes a second for me to pick out my small fly made of feathers and deer hair on the waters surface. It’s late evening on a mid summers night and the fish are rising aggressively to a hatch of caddis flies. In fly-fishing this is what we refer to as the magic hour or happy hour for the fish. Trout are opportunistic feeders and can be fooled and caught with a good offering at any time of the day, but in many places the last hour of light can be the best time to fish with dry flies. Once the light gets low and the shadows cast on the water, the trout, who spend their life hiding from over head predators like osprey and eagles, loose their inhibitions and began to venture closer to the surface of the water looking for an easy meal. Many of the insects trout feed on are sensitive to the harsh UV of direct sunlight and also become more active at this time. Dancing in perfect unison over the surface of the water in a mesmerizing display of natural harmony and synchronicity.
Rhythm and motion combine as the line from a 5 wt. fly rod unfolds back and forth into the warm air. Little droplets of water aerialize off the line and illuminate in the patches of sunlight. A good timed cast and accurate loop land my small deer hair caddis fly imitation in the perfect spot on a seem of current near the far bank of the river. I mend the fly line upstream to alleviate any drag from the swift current on my leader and fly. Intensity and anticipation as the fly drifts perfectly down with the current like a dying caddis in his last dramatic encore, offering himself to the fish. I may repeat this scenario dozens or even hundreds of times in a good evening of fishing. Interrupted only by the indescribable thrill of having a fish engulf the fly with a splashy rise. It’s a great way to tune into and interact with the natural world and underwater ecosystem.
In today’s world it’s hard to keep my mind in the present. I find myself always thinking forward into the future or brooding over events from the past. Things I need to do or the things I should have done. Fly-Fishing is one of the sports that have an uncanny way of stealing thoughts and returning them to the moment. It’s a present moment meditation as I like to call it. Once I’m out on the water everything else falls away for a while and my mind zeros into fish mode. Every cast, every drift holds my attention until finally I realize it’s dark and I need to try and find my way back to my car or campsite.
This an essay that i wrote for the 2012 O.A.R.S. Adventures Magazine. Check it out at www.oars.com