It was noon on a humid June day when I arrived at the spring creek. Dense vegetation lining the banks shrouded the slow moving water, blocking out the sunlight and hiding its presence from the surrounding world. One could pass within ten feet of this stream completely unaware of its existence.
I sought shelter beneath the trees as a brief thunderstorm passed through, sheltered from the rain by the layers of leaves above me. Except for the few large drops collected in pools and dripping off leaves, I remained dry. After the storm, the air grew thick and humid with steam rising off the water. The sun returned and the few rays penetrating the canopy glimmered off the wet leaves. Slowly, a few mayflies began to emerge and the sound of rising trout perked my ears (it is difficult to explain the subtle difference in sound between a droplet of water landing in a pool and a trout rising). Searching in the direction of the sound, I watched as an invisible insect was picked off the surface by a hungry fish. I tied on a small mayfly, hoping it would be an acceptable offering. Slow moving, crystal clear water required a stealth approach into casting position. My first cast came from lying on my stomach in wet grass on the slightly elevated stream bank. The fish, positioned just below the end of a low hanging branch, refused to move two feet for my fly. Several attempts later, the fly landed six inches in front of the trout and the small trout took the fly. Unfortunately, lying on my stomach was not ideal for fighting fish and my first trout quickly unhooked itself and swam away to safety.
Moving upstream, I saw another rise just in front of a submerged log. The theme of low hanging branches remained true, but this time I was able to position myself downstream of my target. Kneeling on the gravel bottom in six inches of water, I threw a backhand cast, careful not to catch the foliage overhead. I watched the fly set on the water only seconds before it disappeared in a swirl. Hopping to my feet, I worked the fish downstream into my net.
Yellow Drakes began to hatch in small numbers, immediately drawing the attention of fish and birds alike. Any mayfly that hovered too long in the air was picked off by a bird and any lingering too long on the water was a meal for a trout. A violent splash upstream and nearly out of sight drew me to the next pool. The fish was rising in a small pocket between downed trees. Impossible to cast at from any other angle but directly overhead, I crept parallel to the fish, concealing myself in the brush. Using the length of the rod, I held the fly in my fingers, flexing the rod to sling-shot a cast towards the two feet of unobstructed water surface. I watched the trout come into view and eat the fly. With logs and branches on either side, the only option was to pressure the fish skyward and hope the hook would not pull out. Careful not to snap my 6x tippet, I brought the fish to the surface for just enough time to swoop my net under and land my biggest fish of the day. As light faded and the hatch slowed, I made my way back to the car and reflected on the events transpired; reliving each cast and hook set in my mind.