Little ones close, blinking and green, the bioluminescing abdomens of small, dark, soft bodied beetles.
Big ones farther away, bright and sightly orange through the haze. Discharges from the base of a thunderhead that was rolling towards us. Mike and I had to bail as the rain turned to a downpour, moving upriver towards clearer skies. Everyone else had long since quit, we were just beginning. It had been a while since I had last spent a whole night on the river and this was going to be a long one.
I got to the end of my first pass of a run with a big streamer. There were no slashes or boils in hearing range nor grabs on the streamer. Doubt was the word. What would I be doing? What could I be doing? A lightning bug drifted by, blinking as though it were still safe and dry and flying.
The next pass with a wet fly resulted in a couple tugs and one small fish landed. But that is not enough for me to be convinced.
The hours crept by. I found a streamer that seamed to work better than anything else and stuck with it. Mike caught a couple good rainbows. The catching was steady, but oh so slow. We may have averaged a fish an hour.
Around 3:00 A.M. I had my best take of the night. I heard and felt the initial kill strike, then heard the eat moments later. I didn't set because I didn't feel it. In hindsight that was a mistake. The kill strike must have knocked slack in the leader so I didn't feel the actual take. I know that was a big fish.
Before long I hooked the biggest thing I would hook all night. It was about 18lbs, very angry, and had a huge paddle tail.
I have hooked a few beavers over the years. It's never fun.
The sun snuck up on me. I didn't feel tired but I know I was. The cold water had stiffened my legs. Last chance morning dance. Under a bridge my fly got hammered. I was using my 10wt at the time after hours with the 5-6, which sounds ridiculous for trout but when I'm fishing big streamers it's all about castability. I usually fish an 8wt. At that point you've already sacrificed good long fights in the name of power. I had joked earlier that I could probably skate in a 20 incher like a small panfish on that rod. This one I could not.
It doesn't feel good when you simply can't stay awake any longer at 10:30 a.m. But any night fisherman worth their salt will probably tell you...
It might be worth it.