The last of Thursday’s heavy rain had the river running higher than usual, but not so high that it could not be fished. I had about two hours before the dam gates opened for the white-water kayakers and the river before me became unfishable. I thought a streamer with weight would do the trick. In the pool below a wide riffle that usually holds trout, I tried an olive zonker with a brass conehead. It looked good in the water and sank sufficiently but it returned no fish.
I switched to a black wooly bugger with green crystal flash. It was a weighted fly my son had tied and given to me in one of his many generous moments.
I moved upstream with my five-weight Redington (actually my daughter’s rod) to a spot above another wide riffle. The water is flat and about four feet deep there. My son and I have found trout in this spot on almost every trip to the river.
My first two casts were sloppy, requiring wide mends to the line. I moved 10 steps upstream and caught a better drift. On the third pass, the line stopped suddenly and in a second I knew I had a good-size fish. He swam straight and fast upstream. I was careful to give him line but not too much, careful to hold tight but not too tight. Too tight and he could bust my leader. The fish swam hard. This was a heavy and healthy trout. He rose and splashed. It was a brown trout. He saw my net and swam away.
I held tight again, but not too tight. Then I pulled the rod back and slid the fish into the net. He dropped heavy into the deep net. The trout was all of 18 inches and trim and more golden in the places that are usually yellow. It wriggled in the net until I extracted the fly from his right mandible. When I released him, he swam away strong. I looked back at where he had taken the fly and marked the spot in memory. I replayed and savored the 90 seconds it took me to land him, then climbed up a bank and sat on a bench. There was still time to fish before the river rose and the kayakers arrived. But, content with that one nice trout, I declared my fishing done for the day.