Keeping the Tradition Alive

The Saturday before Memorial Day. For fly fishers in Washington State, this day means the opening of the new season, when all those rivers that you drove by … almost compulsively … and daydream of fishing again … are fair game.

Okay… IF you have your license, free time, and gear all lined up.

Okay… it also applies to Non-fly fishers, too.

Anyway, I have gone to the same river, roughly in the same 1-mile stretch, on opening day, for several of the past few years. It’s not that the water is always “just the right temp” (it’s usually far too cold for Dry Flies, which I love to cast), or that the rivers are pristine and crystal clear (usually still running a bit high, due to spring melt, which also means it pulls up a lot of silt and debris).

It’s just a way to re-acquaint myself with what I consider my “home waters.”

This year, the water was really quite out of sorts. I knew that all the local rivers were running high, due to some nice daytime temps we had been having, but my First Day River had hit 1200+cfs, where it is at it’s prime below 600.

The area in front of this root ball is often dry rocks, with a pool in the right part of the foreground of this view. Today, upwelling water and streaming currents down both side of the fallen tree.

And the water…not so clear, really.

Not put off by that, I circle down to below the tip end of the tree, and cast my dries (’cause I am a Dry Fly Junkie) in close patterns, fanning out to ensure the fly and tippet land in areas where my line has not drifted, expanding outward, then down both sides of the fallen tree, etc.

Good casting practice.

Oh, and you know how training your reflexes while under duress is supposed to help solidify that learning process? How about: wade out, cast for a minute, then experience seam failure in your right wader boot? Not to worry, it’s not like the water was too cold…

Ummm … okay, maybe a bit cold.

I learned, a long time ago, that I’m one of those people that can almost completely push “distractions” out of mind, when focused on something, intently. I forget to eat, don’t realize when something is starting to hurt, and … can stop for a moment, look at my right boot, say a sarcastic “thank you,” and continue casting…

So, I spent probably 2 hours casting dries in various sections of the river, without even the slightest rise, splashy refusal, or even exuberant/young trout being ambitious and trying to take a fly that would be a large portion of it’s own body size.

Highly unusual for this river.

Finally, I tied on a Prince Nymph, and actually made some passes into the space just beyond the edge seam, in this roaring current.

Finally, I had a response!

Unfortunately, the first (and eventually, only) reaction was the immediate snapping of my leader, and the loss of the nymph, as “it” rapidly accelerated down stream.

Well, better to get one instance of “tight lines” than nothing at all, right?

Still, during my time at the river, I did get to see some excellent examples of various insects which suggested that, had the water been more in line with the normal flow and level, it could have been a very different day for dries or emergers.

There was a nice, small, darkly speckled Caddis, too. It just wasn’t as cooperative.

Ultimate, two traditions were upheld.

Yes, I fly fished on Opening Day.

No, I did not “catch” anything, as I never got to even see what took the nymph.

But, the second part is really unimportant, isn’t it? It’s the first tradition, the time spent in nature and interacting with it, that carries the meaning. Fish or no fish, I would not give up this annual event, if at all possible.

Time to start checking the river flows every day…Maybe, just maybe, they will calm down before Tuesday?

Tight lines…