And then I wake up.
Even though it's less than 60 degrees in my room, my shirt is soaked with sweat. I sit up and have to focus to catch my breath. My heartbeat gradually goes back to a normal, healthy pace. I grasp for my phone. 1:30 a.m.
May as well tie a couple flies.
That was the first week of March. It was still cold. The rivers hadn't really started to wake up yet, but obviously I had. I had been waiting all winter. All through late fall, actually too, because it was an awful weather fall. I now live for two times of year: spring and fall. Everything between is just filler. And the spring... I really do get more excited for it than fall. Coming out of the relatively dull fishing of winter, spring's chaos is exactly what I need. Anadromous species make their upriver runs to spawn, joined by the juveniles of the catadromous American eels and freshwater species that also make upriver runs. On their heels are large predator fish, and already waiting for them are birds of prey and a variety of mammals. When they all converge , be it in small coastal creeks, big rivers, or inland tributaries, it is one of life's most remarkable displays. And between The last week of March and the middle of June, there is nothing I'd rather do than traipse all over the state of Connecticut trying to intercept these convergences as many times as possible. It's exhausting. It can be very frustrating. But it has also given me some of the best experiences of my life. I prepare for the spring runs as soon as the last fall run stripers leave in December. Shad flies, sucker spawn patterns, glass eels, giant herring imitations, and more get tied. Leaders get pre-tied and tapered. Gear is gone over once, twice, three times. Rods must be clean and ready, not a speck of dust anywhere, no crack or blemish unnoticed. Reels are unspooled, lines cleaned, and respooled with no kinks or overlaps or poorly tied backing connections. Everything needs to be ready, because there's no time to lose. And when I'm not preparing, I'm thinking about the spring run. Or dreaming about the spring run. But no amount of planning, thinking, or dreaming could actually guarantee I have a good run. And from the start, this spring seemed it wouldn't turn out the way I wanted it to.
The sucker run began quietly at the end of March. I found fish in a few places, but was hampered by the trout season closure. And when I did find suckers in open water they were entirely uninterested in taking my flies.
By the time trout season opened, most rivers were so high that sight fishing became an impossibility. The sucker run came in went without me catching a single one. Before it was over, the alewives came. The same problems that prevented me from catching a sucker stopped me from catching holdover stripers moving on the early herring. Heavy runoff plagued the big rivers for weeks. Places I would stand with water just above my ankles were got as deep as eight feet. Mediocre runs plagued a lot of the smaller rivers not as severely effected by the runoff, and those places that had good runs were those I couldn't realistically make it to with any sort of consistency. I had one big bass blow up on a herring right under my rod tip in April, and that's the closest I came to anything for the whole month. Friends of mine caught early arriving schoolies in the marshes. I wouldn't get to some of my April hot spots from previous years at all that month. It sucked. It really did. And it just would not stop raining. My dream seemed farther away than ever. It seemed to me like this would be the spring run that wasn't. Thankfully, big walleye and crappie kept me moderately sane.
Then came May.
To be continued....
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