a stroll along the pigeon...

 

the bumblebee

 

Since the hopper had proven unproductive, it was time to change flies. There must be something about fishing that affects the memory. Perhaps that is why fishing stories change as time goes by. The contents of my fly box hadn't changed in the last half hour, yet I stared at the flies as if I'd never seen them before. Finally, I plucked out my favorite fly, an Adams, and tied it on the tippet.

Feeling a little more confident, I laid out the first cast. Thirty of forty casts later there was still no strike. Not even a swirl below the fly. Time to change tactics.

I was reluctant to give up on dry flies so easily, but I was fast running out of ideas. There was one fly I had looked at and dismissed earlier that I decided to try - a bumblebee imitation. I'd never had any luck with one before, but what the heck, it was worth a shot. I tied it on and then eased into a new casting spot.

The first cast fell short of my target, back under some low-lying branches along the far bank. After a short float, I tried again. This time the fly reached further under the branches, but was still short of my target. The next cast was near perfect. A slow line-mending drift produced nothing, like every other cast this day. I fired another cast back into the shade.

The black and yellow fly almost landed on the bank and then hung up briefly on some ferns trailing in the water before drifting through the run. That's when the first strike of the day quickened my pulse. The strike was short of the mark and then another strike came just as I set the hook on the first one. My reaction was a split second too fast, which caused the trout to miss. Now I was getting excited.

It was unlikely both strikes had come from the same fish, since they were so close together. A more likely explanation was that the first strike was by a smaller fish that had been thrown off its mark by a larger fish. The larger fish would have been the second strike.

There was no reason to hurry the next cast, so I let the fish rest for a couple of minutes before making another cast. This one fell short of the bank by a foot. The drift was close to, but not exactly the same as the first cast - nothing, not even a swirl. I hoped I hadn't put down the only fish I had seen today.

The next cast reached further under the branches, again almost touching the bank. It had drifted no more than three feet before there was a surge at the fly. A quick lift of my forearm and I was into what felt like a nice fish.

After a short fight, I slid the net under a nice, eleven or twelve inch brown trout. The fly was hooked firmly in the corner of his jaw. It was too early in the day to think about keeping a fish for dinner, so I released him with no more damage than a small hole in his jaw and a blow to his ego.

Hooking that trout had made me realize that I had been fishing the wrong part of the stream. The casts I had made over bottom structure had yielded no strikes, because the current undercut the banks in this stretch. Brown trout love undercut banks when there is enough current to supply them with oxygen.

Part 12...

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