June 3, 2023

Spring Bites

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By Eleazer Peabody

It is mid May and the warm days have softened our cool souls from this past winter freeze. Not much rain yet, but the alder leaves are the size of a mouse’s ear and the black flies are venturing forth ready for a blood meal—Fishing Season Is On!!!!

Friday, last, I was passing along Twitchell Brook, heading toward Greenwood City, when I glimpsed a splash in a small pool formed by an eddy around a couple of large boulders. I got the truck off the road best as I could, and set the brake to keep it from rolling down “Falls Hill.” I slid my way down the gravel bank to the side of the brook. Standing on a rock at the edge of the pool, I shaded my eyes to peer into the slow-moving current. I looked long and hard for my first glimpse of a spring “brookie!”

I couldn’t see anything moving, so thought my tired eyes probably saw something else. I had a few minutes to spare, so I climbed back up the bank to the road and walked back down to the truck. Behind the back seat was the old bamboo, long stick and a brass Pfleuger fly reel. I slid them out carefully and fitted the three pieces end to end. After carefully aligning of the eyes, I strung the thick line through to the tip.

Selecting the first fly of the season might seem like an endeavor needing much care, but I am not so sentimental when the trout are hungry! Now was the time for action, and small, brown, anything should do the trick. Tying on the Burnt Miller tested my finger dexterity, especially as I was moving back up the road to the bridge beneath Bald Bluff.

I moved carefully to the side of the brook, taking care not to cast a shadow across the pool. I dabbed the fly gently across the water, using just a short length of line, employing an up and down motion with the rod. I expected a splash from a monster at any minute—the winter dream of any devout angler. Again and again, I tempted any finned creature, but to no avail. I moved downstream along a dead water until I reached the top of Twitchell Brook cascades.

There in the current, I used the flow of the water to add action to the fly. I let it drift back and forth behind all the rocks within reach, and carefully moved down to the next pool. There were a couple of shiners trying to eat a fly that was slightly smaller than them. When I’m fly fishing, I often feel that if there is a trout around, it would be more aggressive and take first pick of new food drifting into his domain. No luck…

In a short while, I came to the place where I first became attracted to this fine stream. Using extra care, I raised the rod from behind an old spruce stub. I pulled the fly back with my fingers, putting a little strain on the rod. I then let go, snapping the fly out into the pool. Splaaash!!!

Holy cow,” I might have said aloud. I thought a beaver had slapped his tail on the water!

I didn’t immediately react to this outburst.

Now, totally startled, and slowly retrieving the line so I can set the hook, my fly floats casually on the breeze back to me. I stepped back to grab the fly, and the moss under foot of the rock I was standing on, let go. The next second my butt was engulfed in a torrent of ice water. I’ve dropped my pipe, and I sucked in a deep breath from the shock.

I didn’t get totally wet, as the pool is only six inches deep there. The icy water now is soaking through my clothes that didn’t get directly immersed – and sends new jolts of incredible shock through my body to my surprised brain! Ahhh…

With my heart beating rapidly, I gulped more short breaths of air.

I pondered what to do next. “Could I possibly try tossing out the fly again? Surely any fish that might be in the water, have heard my cuss words and everything else loud and clear.”

My lower half, now really dripping wet and cold, I am beyond just being startled. I pawed around a couple of moments to find my, now drenched, corncob and instinctively stuck it back in my mouth. “I’ve got to get back to the truck.”

I mostly crawled, on hands and knees, up the bank through the bushes, black flies, and gravel to the side of the road. After I got standing, the tug of wet pants weighed me down more than my hurt pride. Step after squishy step, I dragged my sopping form down to the truck. I unceremoniously dumped my gear in the truck body? then reached in and quickly started up the truck to power up the heater. I worked my rain coat out from behind the seat in the cab to keep my wet form from soaking the truck seat. Sliding carefully in with soggy pants, I put the truck in gear and shudder my way home!

Hot tea and a hotter bath were in order!

Submitted with warming thoughts?
Eleazer Peabody