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THE BOYS OF FALL
The mid-October sky was gun metal gray with scudding dark clouds hiding the surrounding mountain peaks already white with the first snows of the approaching winter. The gusting winds sent leaves cascading from the cottonwoods along the river bottoms; like flocks of colorful birds driven before the cold blast of winter. In the tail-out flats of the Yellowstone River brown trout were digging redds preparing to launch a new generation and eager rainbows were lurking nearby hoping to snag a few eggs that might drift away in the current.
Two anglers sat in a pickup truck clutching streaming cups of coffee, watching the water on one of the spring creeks that flow into the Yellowstone south of Livingston. The surface of the water reflected back the color of the sky; the surface a cold gray, unbroken except for the upwelling currents of hidden weed beds. The gusting wind riffled the surface but between the gusts tiny shapes began to appear. Dark grayish wings, like tiny sails raised before the wind, marked the beginning of a hatch of tiny fall Baetis. A shaft of sunlight broke through the overcast and the flurry of tiny flies paused but returned with increasing vigor when the clouds once again overwhelmed the weak late autumn sun. Now the surface of the water was broken by the noses of trout rising to intercept the tiny mayflies as they drifted helplessly; pushed and driven by the gusty winds. A cold rain, driven by the gusty winds greeted the anglers as they exited the warm cab of the truck. Bodies sheathed from the biting winds and spitting rain by layers of wool and neoprene they set forth to challenge the wind and the rain in pursuit of the rising trout.
The spitting rain quickly turned to a cold wet snow carpeting the golden streamside grass with a blanket of pristine white. Soon wind and the snow drove the anglers back to the warm cab of the truck, exposed hands and faces raw from the cold wet snow, but not before they had hooked several nice trout.
Overnight the snow continued to fall and by morning the valley was carpeted with several inches of white. Like the seasons, the boys of fall would await the coming of another spring and the hopeful promise of another year.