There are those days which, to the optimist, make the good days of fishing better. To the realist, or at least to the poor fella who is living one of those days, these days are just rough.
Today was a rough day. Tomorrow it will be a day that makes the good days better, but today...it's rough.
I planned to head out at 4am for an early, chilly arrival to a stretch of a good stream that is always challenging, holds still-elusive Browns, and hasn't been visited by me in months. This took me almost 3 hours from home, so a 7am on-the-water-time would have been perfect. My first alarm didn't wake me up at 3:30, my second alarm didn't wake me up at 3:35. I slept soundly until 7am, the time I was supposed to be stepping into the water. Oh well, so I'll leave late.
I arrived on the water to find another fisherman as surprised to see me as I was him--this wasn't a day that would have attracted too many others, especially to this secluded spot. Since we knew we were the only two out there, we exchanged some words and fishing reports and it was a friendly meeting. With his report of huge browns being hooked earlier still fresh in my head, I moved downstream to produce my own version of that report.
I fished streamer after streamer, working every hole and side of structure. With the recent heavy rain, the water was still a little off color, so I knew the Browns would be roaming a bit. I fished streamer after streamer, working every deep run. Nothing. Figuring that since I have a record of 0 on Browns this year, I switched to my happy dries and began hunting the 'bows that roam around there. Again, nothing. One small chub and I was done. Cutting my losses and scratching my head, I waded back (to find the number of fishermen had grown to 4; completely unacceptable) and decided on going to a familiar stream with a good population of small wild rainbows.
Arriving there, I found I was the sole rod on the water. I stepped into my waders already feeling the little wildies on my line. I didn't have much time, but figured I could work 2-3 of the better riffles before retreating before dark. I tied on my go-to fly for this stream these days: a #22 Griffith's. The first came slowly, but he still managed to save the day. I plunked him back into the water, telling him out loud that he was the salvation for the day. I brought only 3 more to hand, missing a nicer one, and left. The hour I had there wasn't quite the replacement I needed for the rough morning, but it helped ease the sting a little. At least for a while....
Rushing from spot to spot, I willfully neglected to get gas in the car. On empty, I drove back to the connecting town that sits on the highway home. Almost to the gas station (and coffee!), I stopped at a light and waited for the traffic to start moving again. I heard an odd sound behind me, and had exactly half the time necessary to realize it was screeching tires. By the time I began to figure that out, I was shooting forward at an unusual rate with an accompanying, distinctive "GRUNCH." Looking in my mirror, I saw the horrified face of a college girl. My first thought was, "The Sage is in the trunk--is it ok?"
Forty-five minutes, an inspection of my rod, and one police report later, I was back on the road and headed home. The Sage is fine, thankfully. The car is too, really; the bumper got a kiss that falls somewhere between a solid peck and half-hearted french one.
Rough day. One made better by today will soon follow, I'm sure.