This one is as short and simple as the first tentative signs of spring. I keep under the radar of what’s happening in the news and just report on what is not so new. The weather is becoming fair, at last, and so I take another swipe at casting with a fly.
It seems like people are taking their worries and concerns to the street. I feel the spike of a long-awaited season, as if society could puff the northland temperatures above the freezing mark, as if a mortal could invoke the spring to make its lovely shift… Ah yes, hope springs eternal and fishes rise to the hatch.
My son and his wife came up from Virginia. Four of us got our annual fill of pancakes smothered in syrup made outside the Maple Tree Inn beside the wilds of Keeney Swamp. We hiked the Buckseller Trail in the Susquehannock State Forest and, sure enough, the following afternoon, the weather called me to sample a favorite trout stream in the Pennsylvania hills.
Ice still clung to the stream banks. For early spring, the water was low and clear and cold. The forested southern slopes retained their snow. The northern slopes were sunnier and free of winter white. The air temperature edged above the freezing mark. I got no response from a bead-head nymph, so decided to try a dry fly on the stream…
A brook trout rose from the shallows and took the Humpy dry. The water was only 37 degrees Fahrenheit. I’d never caught and released a brook trout on a dry fly in a mountain stream with water temp less than 42 degrees, so the fish and I set a personal record, of sorts. Anglers don’t typically get serious about dry-fly action till the water warms well above the 50 degree mark, but that’s on bigger streams where it takes more energy for a trout to rise the greater distance to the surface.
The American robins, the song sparrows and red-winged blackbirds were finally trickling back here on migration. They were taking it to the streams of spring like we might take to the river or the beach or to the highways leading to new waters. Birds were doing what they had to do, responding to the laws of nature. Hungry fish were starting to move, as well.
The youth of America, assembling on the streets in recent days to protest certain aspects of the status quo, had a different mission, naturally, than the creatures of the wild, but one no less intent on survival and a higher calling.