It looked like a good day to stay home from work and to check up on the trout. The temperature was rising into the 40s, and it said farewell to winter. The streams and rivers would soon be rising from the rains and snow-melt. My fishing options would be few.
I would seize the moment and try like hell to enjoy it. The river would be high and off-color, but fishable, even at 40 degrees of water temperature. This would be my first outing with the Founders’ Rod (see previous post). The robins, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and song sparrows were singing their new territories, and I was looking forward to this evening– I would climb my hill to watch the woodcock in their “sky dance” flights against the first stars and shining planets.
I had the Heddon fly rod with me and it proved to be a casting machine. The cork handle seemed husky and comfortable (with reverse half wells cork). The walnut spacer looked its age, worn from years of “honorable use.” No words will describe the rod’s taper, but I loved the way the instrument could place a 5-weight Cortland Sylk line on the waters. I imagined my casting loop reflected in the circular pattern of a woodcock’s flight at dusk.
The trout don’t care about this rod, one way or another, and it probably makes no difference in my catch rate unless, of course, something psychological is kicking in without my knowledge. I checked my copy of John Gierach’s book, Fishing Bamboo, to see what he thought of rods like the #35 Peerless, and this is what I found: “… the top (Heddon) models– the Model 35 Peerless, Model 50 President, and Model 1000– are magnificent.” Okay, I thought, the word “magnificent” sounds… good enough to me.
I felt pretty lucky wading around in the deep dark pools, but then I also felt some trepidation. I was casting someone else’s quality rod, and stepping on the knife’s edge of the moment. I would be extra careful until getting used to this. I didn’t want to strain the rod tip when the fly got snagged. If I took a sudden swim in icy water, I didn’t want the rod down underneath me. I would be a bit neurotic for a while because the first step on the road to elsewhere always seems the biggest one of all.
I saw the first few stoneflies of the season, and I tried to get the fish to take a beadhead imitation, but their preference wasn’t for the stone. They fell for a light-colored Woolly Bugger and a Glo-Bug.
I caught four standard rainbows and lost several others. The fishing was less than spectacular, but with a fresh new season in the air, and with a stately bamboo in my hand, the day had been satisfying. As for the prospect of watching the woodcock flights at dusk, I paused to think about the bird.
Since 1973, the year I first encountered the species at their evening ritual in March, the “sky dance” flight (thank you, Aldo Leopold) has marked the true arrival of spring. I was looking forward to evenings of participation with these high and circular flights.
With the warm air and the hooting of owls from distant woodlands, the woodcock flights brush against the stars and crescent moon. The bird’s fearless notes, the twitter of air through its wings, present a peerless spectacle of beauty.