Excerpt from The Snowfly
By Joseph Heywood, USA
Sturdivant was at his usual station inside the walls of display cases.
"Have you met your drift, Mister Rhodes?"
"Breakfast by the book."
"Creamer's a generous man when he's pleased," Sturdivant said.
From which I inferred the reverse. "I'll keep that in mind. Any other
words of advice?"
"Dark day, dark, sunny day, bright," Sturdivant said.
This was the sort of simplistic advice that was regularly printed in
fishing magazines. Most of the contributors to such journals were
better at writing than fishing, but nobody seemed to understand this
or, if they did, to care. "Thanks, I'll guard the secret with my life."
Creamer handled his nine-foot rod pretty well, waded quietly and carefully,
rarely disturbing the water, worked his flies with impressive accuracy.
Seeing that he was self-sufficient, I concentrated my energy on locating
fish. It had been my experience that fluctuations in water temperature
produced increased feeding activity; the sharper the changes, the more
active the fish would be. Flat temperatures, even those considered ideal
by fish biologist, just didn't excite the trout. Given the month's rain and
the high water level, I guessed that the steepest part of the warming curve
would occur between ten A.M. and noon. We had had hot weather for
a short time now and the water levels were dropping, but the river
There was still an hour before lunch and we were less than ten minutes
from the island. Creamer had brought three small fish to the net but
spent too much time trying to make sure I approved of what he was
doing. The overcast had blown off suddenly, leaving a brilliant blue
sky. We were beached on a gravel bar across from a steep wall of
staggered slate. I had never taken a fish in either the head or tail of
the long pool, but I'd picked up some fish in the middle, below a
cluster of sumac.
"This could be the spot," I told Creamer. I gave him a small orange
Muddler. When Creamer got the fly connected to the tippet, I squeezed
a bead of lead onto his tippet above the fly. "Make short casts," I explained.
"Bounce it off the rocks if you can, let it sink, pulse your rod hard, then
strip the line. Let the rod tip move the fly, strip to recover line, not to
move the fly, and keep the loose line in front of you so it doesn't tangle.
The weight creates an erratic, sharp movement it you let it work. Go fast.
If you see a follow, pulse the rod faster. Make the fish make a decision.
They'll be deep in crevices at the base of the rocks and they won't come
out unless they see an easy meal. Don't be in a hurry. You may make a
hundred casts along here, maybe more. Get your mind set on a six- to
eight-foot section of the wall, work it with a few casts, and move to the
next section. Be methodical and thorough. Cover all the water. If you
hit a good fish, don't horse it and don't let it get back to the rock, because
it'll try to rub you off. The center of the pool is fairly clean; just keep
the fish off the wall. That's home and that's where it'll want to be. When it's
played out, work your way onto shore and swim it in. Don't screw around
with the net."
"It's not very elegant," Creamer said.
"You can have big fish or you can have elegance, " I told him. "You
seldom get both. Little fish are predictable. Big fish aren't and no two
of them fight alike. You need to reduce the elements that can go wrong.
Nets are usually trouble. With big fish you have to do whatever is required.
Trust your instincts." ~ Joseph Heywood
Excerpt from Snowfly by Joseph Heywood,
published by Lyons Press.
Read the review of this intriguing novel here.
Lighter Side Archive