So, how’s your trout season so far?
Sure, I’m being facetious. Today is April 3, but a Department of Environmental Conservation regulation does not a season make.
The creeks are swollen and
frigid, the only bugs around are a few midges flitting over the water and early stoneflies along the bank. A few skilled (or lucky) bait fishermen have probably already proved, as they do every year, that trout do eat when water temperatures are still in the 30s, but by anyone’s standards, opening day fishing is slow fishing.
It’s possible to catch trout with flies, but that’s possible in January, too, on those streams that stay open to fishing all year long. The conditions on the trout streams right now aren’t what most of us spend our winters daydreaming about.
Even so, I submit, everything changed on Tuesday, the way it does every April Fool’s Day. Trout season is no longer coming. It’s here. And it’s all about the thing that is the very essence of springtime, and, for me, the essence of fishing: possibility.
Will this be the year you finally land a 20-inch trout on a Size 20 dry fly?
Will this be the season when the planets align and you finally hit the Beaverkill or the Battenkill at exactly the right time of the right day — with a righteous Hendrickson hatch in progress and good trout feeding voraciously at the surface?
Will this be the season that you enjoy gangbusters fishing in the March Brown hatch up on the West Branch of the Ausable, sheltered by the looming High Peaks?
Will this July be the one when you finally make it to Montana?
Is this the year where you take some time away from your old haunts and go poking around the little-fished creeks of Hamilton County or the northern Catskills? Might you hold a truly native brook trout in your hand for the first time?
This year, have you made plans to spend a week on one of the great Atlantic salmon rivers of eastern Canada? Will your new desktop background on your computer at work be a picture of you holding a big, shiny specimen of the game fish of kings?
Will 2008 be the season in which you experience the Green Drake hatch on West Canada Creek for the first time, seeing the sky and the surface of the water full of huge mayflies, with trout rising all over the place?
Will you try your hand at saltwater fly-fishing this year? Might you be on Lobsterville Beach on Martha’s Vineyard at dusk or on the pitching seas of Montauk Point at first light, casting to blitzing striped bass?
So many fish, so little time: The seasons race by, each one more quickly than the last.
One of the nice things about fly-fishing is that it can take you so many places — distant locales that require air travel, even passports, but also the many different kinds of waters right here in your own area.
We are lucky to live within a few hours’ drive of big, famous dam-fed trout rivers and shady brook-trout creeks in the woods; bass ponds and impoundments, the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. No season and no lifetime are long enough to discover all their secrets, and that’s the way we like it.
Whatever kind of fishing you do and wherever you do it, my best wishes for a great 2008 season.
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