In the early spring @PacificCrestTrials and I braved the slushy snow and icy rocks to fish one of our favorite spots. To our surprise, we got skunked. While pondering our failure, I realized I little I really knew about trout. We imagined returning in the summer months when the fishing was best and surveying the pool from the trout’s point of view.
Well summer is here, and the fishing is great. Donning swim trunks and googles we braved the 60 F river. First toes, then knees, and finally a full dive. As our bodies acclimated to the temps we started to search the pool for trout. After our flashy entrance, we expected all the poor fish to be cowering at the bottom, spooked by the invaders. But the opposite was the case.
Young trout patrolled around us, completely focused on their prime directive: to feed. They glided through the flow of debris washing into the pool, picking out the occasional flotsam. Only after a moment of thoughtful chewing would the trout be sure that they had scored a snack. I was suppressed to see how often they chewed on sticks and other inedible matter, only to spit it out. As I came to understand the rhythm of the feeding trout my attention wondered to the depths at the center of the pool.
I picked a heavy stone from the shore and then swam out towards the pool’s center. As I came over the deepest part, I pulled the stone close and let it sink me. As I came rest on the boulder strewn depths I was met by many cautious trout. They diligently keep their distance, always keeping an eye on me. Some would slip into a crevasse and peer back at me. I found it hard to believe that these shy creatures were the same kind of fish as those vigorously feeding above.
As I became more accustomed to holding my breath in the chilling water I began to explore past the center. On the far corner of the pool the largest trout was idling. This fish had put all the distance between us that it could and was now holding perfectly still. I found myself feeling this was no accident. I wonder how early it had retreated there, if it had fallen back before I even entered the water.
After swimming around a bit more and recovering some lures stuck to the bottom, it was time to put our new knowledge to the test. Matt cast to precisely where we had seen the trout feeding. It was a nearly instant hookup. I followed suite and cast my fly out too, but with a twist: I put my head under water. With my rod over my head and out of the water I was able to watch the entire presentation unfold. I watched an inquisitive trout drifted up to investigate my fly, for a moment it hesitated, then, took it.
It was thrilling.