The morning is crisp. Winter’s grasp still lingers on the evenings. The river is soft with her speech, a low heavy mist all but silences her. A whisper…
I have not felt her embrace in months. The days have become longer. The sun’s angle has changed, the alpenglow from atop the snow covered mountains gives me respite. An eagle swoops through the barren tree limbs silently…on the hunt for the mornings prey.
The snow crunches under my worn felt, caking along the bottom with every few steps. My breath heavy from the long walk along the river bank. I hear an otter chatter breaking the softness of the ever increasing morning light.
My hands are cold. My joints stiff. The cork feels slightly foreign in my hand, but the worn spot near the hilt where my thumb rests is so familiar. I rub the cork insistently, my anticipation peaked. Months worth of a cold snow filled winter have only stoked the fire and drive to chase wild trout in the waters of my beloved homewater.
~The longing to embrace the wildness of that world has been at the forefront of my every thought of late. The trout I chase in my dreams are all out of reach. The freedom of the wild and raw nature of trout is what pulls me towards the river. It echoes through the mountains and forests that surround me, it blasts through the sound of the rail cars that pass by every day. It silences all that surrounds me with its enticing call. My siren, or muse. Bordering on obsession, my passion for what chasing wild trout with fly and rod gives me is sometimes beyond explanation. Only known to those that share in the same blessing…or curse…of understanding that connection and freedom…becoming involved with the river and trout that live within.~
My body aches against the cold. The rod feels heavy in my hand as I sling it through the air. It takes a few casts before everything settles into that familiar rhythm. Oh that rhythm. The pull of the line as it loads the rod, the vibration of the pause that ricochets through my arm, instinctively bringing the rod forward. I hear the line in the air, a sharp slice as it cuts through the mist. A slight grinding sound as the line runs through an eyelet with ice forming. The fly landing softly, delicately along the seam below a boulder. The small puff of CDC feather my only indication of where the fly rides. The dorsal fin of a large trout rising a few feet below the fly. The world stops. My lungs feel like they will burst as I’ve held my breath for the entire drift. The fly passes over…I breath.
The next cast places the fly along a better drift. My thumb tapping the cork as the drift comes together on target. Everything around me fades away. The sound of the river drowns out the world. There is a slight dimple and I lose the fly. I raise the rod soft, but quickly. My heart shakes my body with a thump as I feel the ferocious shake of a wintered wild trout prepared to battle. The trout is smart, large, well versed in the dance that is unfolding. The deep pull and bend in the rod against the animal brings a smile to my face. There it is…the call answered. What I have been seeking, longing for. Ended all to short…as the trout gains leverage and fights its way to freedom before I can greet it with a proper handshake. I tip my hat. A proper welcoming from my homewater on such a glorious spring morning. There are more trouts to chase. Another rises just out of reach. So I reel in my line, check the fly…and answer the call.