Out of the back seat I grabbed my gear. A fly rod tube, a fly box, a dry bag with a change of clothes and my lunch. I walked to the passenger side of the truck. I got in the front seat and looked over to see Mike holding out a pillow case. “Put this over your head.” It was at that moment that I realized there were two scenarios that could play out from this point. One, Mike was a fisherman serial killer who used the hopes and dreams of huge trout to lure his prey to their deaths. Or two, this was the first time I’d ever had someone tell me they had a secret spot with huge trout in it that was actually true.
Once I was big enough and strong enough to work the gates it was like I’d become an adult. In my young mind, being trusted enough to keep the cows where they belonged, and taking the place of my Grandfather at the gates, I was a man. It’s really something to look back on a grandfather getting older and letting you do the work because you are too, and to realize now that you didn’t realize then, it meant you were both getting older and that all things pass with time, including us.
The roads were fine. Everyone was once again making a big deal out of nothing. Somewhere over the past few years people have forgotten that they live in Upstate NY and that this is just winter. We call school days on account of two inches of snow, we declare snow emergencies when there might be some lake effect coming, we broadcast winter advisories… when the first and only warning we really needed is that this is NY, and yes, it’s winter. Those of us who still fish how and when we can all winter view it as a huge farce mostly. I guess we’re a dying breed. Fine with me. We’re all dying anyhow. May as well do it with a fly rod in your hand. Let’s get this over with I say.
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.