. Whatever patterns I take are stuck on my hat, a couple spools of tippet, and my small net. I don’t worry about running out anymore. I don’t think it’s that I’ve become such a proficient angler that I never lose flies in trees or break off fish, because I still do those things frequently enough to say I’m still fairly good at them. I do it because it’s just simpler, not carrying all the extra crap with me on a creek.
I stood at the Jeep, a fly box on the hood opened up displaying my tools to the fishing gods while I struggled to tie on a size 16 scud. A red squirrel sat on a rotten limb leaning against the base of a tree, watching me with indifference as it rolled something over and over in its paws, gnawing away feverishly and filling its cheeks. If the truth was told, we were probably both in the same frame of mind. Better get this done now while we still can. A forty-five degree day in December is nothing to take for granted. I rig up a fly rod. The squirrels search out and store away more food. We all have our priorities.
The same thing played out over and over for the next half hour or so. A good cast, a good drift, a rise and inspection, and a refusal by a dumb nine inch stocked brown trout. I looked closely at the small caddis imitation between my thumb and index finger several times. Each time I thought to myself that it looked real enough to me, that it should look even better to a dumb animal, and that neither one really mattered since it was the only one I had.
I knew I only had one larger streamer in my fly box, so I moved my hands slowly up to my chest pack and began the task of snipping off the crayfish pattern and tying on the five inch streamer tied entirely of flash. No deer air. No Hackles. No marabou or even fake craft fur from the craft store. Nothing but flash. A black back, a blue mid-section, and a silver belly. I made a short cast just above it and out in the current, and as it sunk it passed the fish on the bottom at about its eleven o’clock. The fish turned to face it and stare it down like a top predator does. I gave a twitch.
But this morning I came across some pictures from up on the towers, and it lead to me thinking about things that I took away from my short time in that industry. Mostly fly fishing, and a pair of old friends. In the picture I’m looking down past my boots at the featureless landscape four-hundred and fifty some odd feet below. But it wasn’t the height, and it wasn’t the memory of that specific job that made the picture special. It was my boots supporting me up on the narrow, cold steel up in the wind. They’re my wading boots.
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