The source of much joy and much frustration flows out of the ground at a steady 55 degrees fahrenheit. On this slow moving spring creek my body convulses with mixed emotions; my hands uncontrollably shaking after releasing an 18” brown trout one day, and my face quivering hot with rage after losing back to back flies on a low hanging branch another day. I try to console myself in those darker moments by attributing lack of success to some unseen external factor easily dismissed as ‘the elements.’ Nature is the easy scapegoat because it does not argue... but I know I could have done better. Still I come back to this creek because I have had a taste of what can happen when the trout are hungry and my fly looks like food. Now I approach the creek like a job interview. I am confident in my abilities, but hide my expectation because I know the odds are not in my favor. I go through the familiar motions, the fly selection and cast, hoping that my training is sufficient. Sometimes it is, and sometimes the trout accept my offer.
There is a secret to this creek that I do not know, but I’ve found peace with not knowing. The creek is far away and our interactions are few. But what I do know is that there are brown trout over 20 inches waiting and learning every day. I only hope I learn quicker.