It's that time of the year - spooks abound, on the television, in advertising...and on the river, apparently.
And spooky is a great description as to how the fish have been acting - the smallest movements, the littlest flash from something shiny, and they are GONE.
And the numbers...where did all the fish go? Perhaps the same place my socks go to when in the dryer? It wouldn't surprise me to know that, somewhere, in between dimensions, there is a pile of my socks with a shit-load of fish just hanging out around them. Laughing.
Ah well, maybe I've just become spoiled and this is actually the norm - but it sure doesn't mean I have to like it.
Weather-wise, however, it's been nothing but fantastic - chilly autumn mornings, and mild (sometimes hot) afternoons. And with the water levels up, one would expect a bonanza of fishy targets to aim for, as the browns get freaky and the fish all start to gorge themselves for the upcoming winter.
But it ain't happening. At least, not when I've been around. Now, I know I can kill a good time faster than a positive reading on your swab test, but give me a break already.
This past weekend was a repeat of the past few trips to the river - fewer fish, that are a lot more sketchy than I've seen in some time.
I managed my first catch of the morning by basically crawling on my hands and knees to the edge of the water, while using a stand of brush as my cover.
Parked in about 4 inches of virtually dead water, I held no hope of keeping him close after throwing my line - but miraculously, he didn't flinch when I tossed my fly a couple feet ahead of him.
The really stupid part of this story is, with practically no current in the water, I was forced to slowly 'tug' my line downstream, pulling my fly closer to the fish....I admit, that this is pathetic, but desperate times call for desperate measures...
The amazing part of the story is, not being able to tell where my fly was at, or even if the fish was somehow fooled by it's ridiculously unnatural movement, I set my line....and I'll be damned, I nailed him.
Surprise doesn't even begin to describe my reaction. Utter disbelief, is probably more accurate. In any case, I caught myself a fairly decent fish.
After that it was up to the Ice Box...where pickings were just as slim.
I spotted one nice fish in an outside seam, actively feeding - on the surface, it appeared to be an easy drift, but upon further inspection, it was apparent that he was feeding on the back eddy of a rock that was sandwiched between two currents.
While I strive for some challenge in my fishing...this was pushing the limits of my adventurous side. In situations like this, it's not about skill, but rather numbers (of casts) and blind luck.
The one positive I had going for me is that the fish did not run. No matter how many times I tossed my line, and no matter how often I adjusted my position, that fish didn't bolt - which is great, because I had to work him for the better part of 20 minutes before I finally struck pay dirt.
Come to find out, with damage to his eye, the fish is running blind on the right side - yeah, I'm reduced to picking on the handicapped now.
I managed to call it an early day (which was good, given my lack of sleep the night before) and got home early enough to start handing out goodies to all the kiddies that got an early start on their Halloween fun.
Truth be known, it was a pretty great day - losing a couple of fish, and getting a couple to the net. It's really hard to complain about a day like that.
The next few weeks are fairly booked on my calendar, but, I will make time to re-visit my little, squishy friends in the canyon and, just maybe, by that time, they've all returned from wherever it is they've gone to.
And hopefully they've brought my socks with them.