The rivers in the area are starting to settle in to their summer flows. They’ve come to this state later than normal due to a good snowpack and productive spring rainfalls. Soon the water will no longer cool your toes when you wade in. But not quite yet.
The air is heavier than it was only a few weeks ago. The mercury has dodged towards the triple digits once or twice. While it never quite got there it let you know that it was possible; that summer was here. Soon the fruit on the wild grape growing on the banks will purple and fill the air with it sweet scent. But not quite yet.
The Noname River is a pretty little stream that I’ve fish relatively often this year. In past years I fished this river only in the spring and fall. Most years the summer flows are very low and too warm to play with the trout. But this year it is still flowing at a reasonable rate and the water retains a good chill as measured by my Teva’d toes.
The stream has a pretty solid wild trout population but like most of these small New England streams the bug life is sparse. While that lack of solid biomass inhibits growth of trout it also means that when they see something foodlike, they pounce. That’s this stream’s appeal.
Along the first hundred yards or so from the road the water is thin. I’ve fished it a couple of times but even the likely spots that have some depth rarely yield a fish. There is this one little pool where the stream flow encounters a large boulder and some ledge. The hard turn of the current has carved out a bit of a hole. I’ve seen fish scurrying for cover as I’ve approached. But that usually means I’ve spooked them and I pass them buy.
This time I was smart enough to bushwhack a bit off the trail as I came upon this pool so that the fish were fresh. I noticed a rise as I walked by so I knew where to cast. With a Parachute Adams, the first of the Two Fly, on my leader I walked out on that piece of ledge and commenced to casting. It took a few drifts to get into the right spot but once I was in the zone the response was immediate. A beautiful, wild Brown Trout came to hand.
The Parachute Adams did the trick several more times as I worked through the slow runs below. I got about half the fish that slashed at the fly to hand. The biggest was an eight inch Brown. All thin. All feisty. All returned to catch again.
The water was unusually vacant for a summer afternoon. It is the peak of vacation season which usually means an unending flotilla of yellow, orange and lime green tubes are meandering down the river. This day however, it was empty, but large piles of river stones and more than one piece of trash let me know that they had been there at some point during the day. I was glad that they were gone. Not to besmirch their right to enjoy this wonderful place, but casting is hard enough here without having to worry about hooking a child.
I tied on a size 14 Parachute Adams, stepped in the stream, and stood for a minute or two so that my bare legs could adjust to the abrupt change in temperature. Honestly, I could stop right there and just stand looking at this wonderful place, but when you are a middle aged man, and you are standing alone in a river, you had best be DOING something. So I scanned the water for signs of life.
Across the stream, underneath an overhanging branch of an Elm tree was a sipper. Nothing huge to be certain, but the fish was active. I sidestepped upstream about twenty feet to get a better presentation as my fly drifted into the feeding lane, fed out a few feet of line and came back with my cast. That is when I was reminded that trees line BOTH sides of the bank. My fly had found an oak branch. An oak branch that was out of reach. An oak branch that, unless something very severe has occurred in the interim, still has a size 14 Parachute Adams dangling like a Christmas ornament.
I tie on a size 14 Parachute Adams, move a little further out into the stream, and stand for a minute or two to see if my target was still eating. He was there. And this time he had a dinner guest, just behind him and closer to a rock ledge. This one was bigger, much bigger, and it was he who now garnered my attention.
The cast was as close to good as I could get and the path of my drift would put it right between them. The fly came in close, intersected the two trout, and the smaller one hit it as if its life depended upon it. The Riverdale Classic 6’6” 3 wt. (the name of rods I build) bent with short quick dips as the fish darted left and right, then airborne before being handed, unhooked, and released. Not much bigger than my hand, but with color that just isn’t found anywhere else around here.
I redress my fly, check my knot, and flick it back out into the same run. I know that there was also a big fish feeding, and I also know that one of my good friends caught a 22” Brown from this same spot. My imagination begins running wild. I get nervous. The fly reaches ground zero…nothing. I cast again. Nothing. Then I begin to think that perhaps the remaining fish was put down by my previous catch. I move on to let it have enough time to forget about me…I will be back.