The evening’s Genesee was too warm (72 degrees F.) to fish at Shongo so I drove upstream and found safer water (68 degrees) for trout, in case the dry fly action turned out to be good. It turned out to be very good.
The hatchery trout, browns and rainbows, quickly rose to dry fly patterns such as the McGee, the Rusty Spinner, the Adams, and the Adams variant called the Purple Haze– especially to the Purple Haze. They slammed it hard, sometimes taking it deep but, using forceps, I could generally release the barbless hook without producing injury.
Throughout the evening I could feel an inexplicable blues wash through me like the gently flowing river. I’m not sure why, but I linked it to myself, to friends and family, and to the whole inglorious world. Usually, if I’m feeling this way, a visit to the stream or forest is the antidote, the medicine, that heals. On this occasion, though, the numerous trout were slow to bring on the enchantment. When it did kick in, however, the magic blossomed like lilies on a pond.
I’m not sure what trout see in the Purple Haze, other than an obvious morsel. It’s an attractor pattern rather than a strict imitation of a natural insect. For myself, this pattern imitates a certain feeling that I had, associations that assisted my activity while casting, playing and releasing fish.
Although I think I caught at least one stream-bred fish among the countless hatchery trout, any sense of wildness in me came from personal actions and associations. It came from casting upstream while catching my balance in stony riffles. It came from bending knees and torso to release a struggling trout. It came from listening to the final evening songs of scarlet tanager, hermit thrush and veery. Wildness came from the Purple Haze link to a Hendrix song and to the psychedelic aura of the early 1970s.
In the breezy morning after this particular outing, I can walk with the early sunshine to the patch of wild black raspberries and enjoy their taste. The blues from the night before are gone. The ripening berries have a purplish undertone beneath a dark exterior. The tongue will crush their “blackcap” sweetness and roll it through the mouth. The taste of wildness floods me like a song.