After 40 hours of intermittent rain that crystallized into snow and wind on Saturday morning, I knew the fishing would be tough, if not impossible. I drove north anyway and found that Naples Creek was clearly borderline– very high and muddy, but not quite dark enough for me to do a turn-around and go back to bed.
The air felt more like February than April as I suited up with grim determination, ready to accept the challenge. This was the first weekend of an open season on the Finger Lake tributaries, and I noticed that quite a few anglers, perhaps dozens, were out on upper Naples Creek looking for the famous rainbows that swim from Canandaigua Lake to spawn.
Wading was pretty much out of the question today, and I figured that my best chance for a hook-up as a fly-fisherman would be to focus on the backwater, eddies and deeper pools while swinging a large, brightly colored streamer along the bottom.
“Backwater, eddies and deeper pools” became my four-beat phrase, my mantra, that I repeated silently throughout the mile-long hike upstream. “Backwater, eddies, and deeper pools,” I chanted, while fishing slowly with each cast, as the snow and sleet flew by, as the wind roared through the sycamore tops, and as I glanced heavenward to check for falling objects.
At one point a pair of bluebirds flew from the open fields along the west bank of the creek toward the forest of the Bristol Hills that towered above the valley on the east. A pair of bluebirds– to remind me, perhaps, that spring was somewhere in the atmosphere, and to remind me that, if I held out long enough, I might enjoy a much brighter and warmer day forecast for tomorrow….
Focusing on the stream’s backwaters, eddies and deeper pools didn’t help me much on this occasion. No doubt the surviving wild rainbows were hanging out in those formations (I had heard that on opening day, the previous Tuesday, there were lots of nice rainbows taken for the annual derby and trout festival here), but now there was too much cloudy, turbulent water between the fly and the fish.
Under the circumstances I was probably fishing pretty well and had the right stuff for the task at hand (the right physical equipment, if not a balanced mind-set) but the trout were out of reach. I didn’t see anyone today with a rainbow at hand. If someone had asked me why I even bothered to venture forth, or why I didn’t wait for better times tomorrow, I probably would’ve been struck dumb for a sensible answer, assuming there was one.
After all, the calendar said that spring was here and that winter had gone under. My senses told me that the stream was flowing, that the ice was gone, and that, ostensibly, big rainbows still remained in the chaos of water. I had all the motivation I needed. It was in the backwater, eddies and deeper pools of the creek, if not just in their counterpart locations of the mind.