There’s a particular place on my favorite trout creek that I’m always keen to visit. It’s a notch in the bank where a spring feeds into the creek channel. It’s behind a rock and alongside a current seam and underneath a willow of about five years old. I noticed this place sometime last year and thought it would be perfect to hold a fish if only it were a little deeper. As a matter of form and practice I covered the spot with a dry fly, probably a caddis. Before the fly drifted more than an inch or two, there came a splash and a take and I guess it took me by surprise because I set the hook too late. When I walked up to it, I saw that the place was not so shallow as I’d thought at first. By all metrics it was a fine little fish house but of course its occupant was no longer at home. A while later I visited the spot again, though I was probably less hopeful than I had been the first time—the shy, shrewd fish of this creek seem to have a complex system of recordkeeping by which each angler is furnished one chance to make the right move and if he does not he is politely asked to fish elsewhere. I covered the little fish house with my dry fly for a second time. There came a splash and then a take and I guess this took me by surprise because I set the hook too late.
Russ and I went up there tonight. We fished up the stream and the fishing was not terrific, but there were fish for us both. Before I knew it I found myself at the streamside notch and it was my turn on point. I was casting my 12-foot Iwana this time and I put a hometied Purple Haze on the very roof of the fish house. There came the splash but there was no take, and I was fairly certain that the fish had missed the fly. Within two breaths the Purple Haze was back on the water and the fish came for it again. I was ready. It was a cutthroat, just a small one, but in great shape.
“Look at the color on him,” said Russ. “Wow.”
This is a story of home waters—learning something from a stream, revisiting it, and learning something more.