The brook is only eight to 10-feet wide at most points along the headwaters. A warm spring day has finally arrived in the high country of the Appalachian foothills, and it feels good to be catching and releasing trout. Hepatica, trillium, spring beauty, and trout lily paint the ground beneath the greening forest and along the banks of waterways. A redstart warbler sings sweet-sweet from a branch above the stream, and yellow-rumps flit among the myriad willow trees and hemlocks, feeding ravenously as they migrate slowly northward.
This is micro-flyfishing in every sense of the word. From the use of tiny fly rods on tiny streams to the sense that the world has shrunken to a realm of what the senses can encompass as you walk along. The shrubbery and foliage have only now begun to develop a green mantle, still allowing free movement of arms and legs in the act of fishing. Eyes still penetrate the branchy corridors and treetops; ears detect the nuance in the stream’s flow, the shrill melodies of brown creeper and winter wren.
It’s my favorite time of year. Although the season has been cold till now and fishing has been slow because of chilled water and a dearth of insect hatches, the new year’s pace is quickening. Whereas the fishing in the river valleys has been minimal and frustrating to this point, the Hendrickson mayflies have been hatching on the headwaters, and the native trout are rising to the duns.
With my six-foot fiberglass wand, a short leader on a five-weight line, and with reddish Stimulator or a Hendrickson dry fly with the barb pinched down, I can roll-cast along the sparkling riffles or bow-cast to a point beneath hanging branches (ideally speaking, if I’m not hung-up on some damned twig). I like the heavier fly line since it loads faster and there’s seldom a need to have the line hitting these miniature pools.
The world is pint-sized, fresh, and oxygenated. If I’m lucky to have reached such transcendental moments with a brook trout on the line, I’m one-on-one with nature at its best, and I couldn’t ask for more.
A dozen natives come to hand before I turn around and head back to the land of human commerce down below. What has seemed to be a micro-cosmic experience has been more than that. I’ve gone beyond myself, beyond my self-concerns, beyond the petty world of human whining, greed, and lust. I know this because the land and waters are within me again. I know this even as the roads and buildings and abstractions reappear.
We belong to a realm of people, family, and human love, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is good to know, however, that a small green world of rivertops exists, and to hear the infinite waters calling.