A KINGDOM FAR AWAY (part five)
|Part 4 can be found here|
On Monday Joe stopped at the house early to pick me up for what he told me was going to be a special trip. We drove for a couple hours and then when Joe slowed the car and turned off the road I thought he was driving straight into the woods. The two track road that we were following was nearly obscured by the trees but it was apparent that Joe had been here before. We snaked our way along, crossed a small creek, went up a steep hill and when we dropped down the other side there was a big meadow and Joe pulled the car off the track and parked under some large pine trees. As I got out of the car I could see the remains of a fire ring and again I was reminded that it was obvious that Joe had been here before. Joe motion for me to follow him and I quickly fell in behind him as he cut across the tall meadow grass.
Down the middle of the meadow was a line of brush and as we approached I could hear water running. We pushed through the brush and step onto the banks of a crystal clear meadow stream.
"What do you think?" Joe asked. "Think we can find you a trout here?"
The creek was about 10 feet wide, flowing over brilliant clean gravel, but it seemed that it was too small and clear to hold many trout.
Again Joe motioned for me to follow him and we began to work our way upstream along the banks of the creek. A short distance from where approached the water we came to a place where the water flowed over some bigger rocks and formed a small pool. As we stood at the tail of the pool a fish made a splashy rise about half way up the pool. As we stood watching several other fish repeated the performance. Clearly there was more to this little creek than was immediately apparent to my untrained eyes. We returned to Joe's car and a few minutes later we were standing back at the tail of that pool with fly rods in hand.
I was anxious to take a crack at those fish but Joe suggested that we sit down for a few minutes and see exactly what was happening.
"First let's see if we can figure out what's making them rise."
As we sat there I noticed some insects that Joe had told me were caddis flies skittering around the surface of the water. I remembered that first time I tried to catch a trout that the fish were eating caddis flies and the rises were splashy.
"Could they be eating caddis flies?" I said tentatively.
Joe smiled and nodded. It was obvious that he was pleased that I remembered. He opened one of his fly boxes and held it out.
"Do you see anything in here that looks like one of those caddis flies?"
"Let's see if we can catch one so we can see what they look like," I said.
"You're a quick learner," Joe said, his smiling getting even bigger.
The caddis flies were hard to catch as they skittered over the surface but I finally managed to catch one in my hat. Holding the fly in my fingers we compared it to the flies in Joe's fly box. In one of the compartments were some flies that looked almost exactly like the caddis that I was holding in my fingers.
"I think that one should work," I said pointing to the flies in the box.
"Looks good to me too," Joe said, "so let's give it a try. Now in order to avoid tangling with the trees we will need to use a roll cast. Do you remember how that works?"
I wasn't sure so Joe said he would show me. After he tied his fly on his leader he shook out some line on the water, raised his rod and without lifting the line off the water he made a normal forward cast. The line slid off the water and turned over sending his fly out toward the center of the pool without ever going behind him.
"Now once you have done this there is one other cast that will allow you to avoid those trees."
As the line floated down passed us Joe let the line straighten out below him and the he simply lifted his rod tip and lifted most of his fly line off the water and then flick the rod tip back upstream. The fly popped off the surface and shot back upstream.
"See," Joe said, "you can use the surface tension and the current to allow you to make a cast without ever lifting the fly off the water."
It took me a few tries but with a little gentle coaching from Joe I was soon making a fairly decent roll cast. Finally I made a good cast and as the fly settled on the water it disappeared in a splashy rise. I would like to say that I gently raised my rod tip to hook the fish but my strike launched that brookie right out of the water like a small missile. A few seconds later my first trout, an 8 inch brook trout was squirming in Joe's net.
"This is a brook trout," Joe said. "These are the only trout that were here when our ancestors came here."
I thought this was the most beautiful fish that I had ever seen. The back was green and there were some red dots that had what looked like a blue halo around them. His fins were red with white edges.
"Can I keep it?" I asked.
"Well, in this stream there are lots of these small brook trout, and it can certainly afford to let us keep a few for dinner."
Joe showed me how to kill the fish quickly with a sharp blow on the back of the head, and then he took a length of cord out of his vest and strung it through the gills of the fish. He took his knife and cut a willow stick and jammed it into the bank and secured the cord to the stick. Then he slid the trout into the water.
"This will keep him cool and fresh. Now let's see if you can catch some more. We need a few more to make a meal."
|Part 6 can be found here|