Lately, I have been feeling sick. I am tired o snow, cold feet, and the dull grey of the woods. I have had day dreams of warmer, colorful days. Today I imagined a spring creek with native brook trout in the driftless region.
It was a perfect evening at the end of a warm September day. The liquid gold of the sun had just started to sink behind a distant ridge line. In the meadow, crickets and katydids began their shrill songs. The occasional bee fumbled from golden rod to golden rod, heavy with his hive's sustenance. The field is rustled by a light breeze. To the insects, it is like a tornado, blowing them in small clouds till the can grab hold of a stem or leaf.
I pushed through tall thick tall grasses and wild flowers. In one hand was a dainty bamboo fly rod; in the other, a box of flies. Robust concoctions of deer hair, turkey quill, silk, red hackle, and rubber leg lined the little plastic box. As I glided through the golden and green jungle, a militia of grasshoppers flew out of my path. Some were tiny and a beautiful light green. Others were like little monsters, brown and yellow beasts that barbled a dark putrid juice when captured. This did not prevent the birds from making a meal of them, as many species swooped and dove to collect the evening meal.
Something else was hungry for grass hopper. I reached my destination, a clear, slow creek; it was no bigger than a sidewalk. I slid to my knees and watched the scene. A hopper tried to clear the stream, but the wind knocked him down. He splashed in a panic. A shadow appeared from the grey and green limestone bottom. With a slurp and a flash of olive and red the big insect was gone. I opened my fly box and extracted a gaudy pattern very similar to the victim I had just seen. It had been tied at my bench some cold winter night while sipping tea and dreaming of warmer days, of some mystery stream concocted by my own imagination. I tied the pattern to my tippet and pulled some line from the reel. With a few flicks I felt I had a suitable length of line out.
I looked behind me. The meadow loomed like a wall on either side of the stream. It was hungry, but I would not feed it my hook. A roll cast was made, and the imitation landed softly on the opposite bank. With a twitch it plopped into the current. It only made it a short way before being set upon by a hungry fish. I lifted the rod and a defiant char struggled at the surface. After running down current and trying to bury himself in a clump of grass, the fish gave up. He stared up at me with annoyance and fear. I wet my hand and gently nudged the hook free. For a few moments, in the dying light, I gazed upon the king of that tiny kingdom. His olive back and maroon flanks were fairly spattered with yellow speckles and red spots and their blue halos. It tapered back to his broad square tail. I slipped the brooky back into his river, where he swan among aquatic plants and scrambling crayfish. I returned to the fading heat of the meadow.