The day had been long, and from a fish catching point of view, barren. A sleek rainbow had taken my dry fly out of the morning’s first run, rising to it warily and following it downstream for few seconds before committing. Now, the sun had dipped beyond the ridge tops to the west, and despite thoroughly covering a couple of miles of pocket water and glides to the best of my abilities, nothing more had come to my fly. First world problem, I’d told myself throughout the day, focussing on staying positive, not letting the shadows of doubt finger their way across my resolve, as is their wont.
One more run, I told myself as I rounded the bend and waded up the gravel bar below the pool. Fish or no fish, there was a beer cooler back at the truck that needed my attention. Stepping from the slickness of the river to the dry of the bank, I stood, hands on hips, and took in the river before me.
The pool was the product of a split flow around an island, coming together in a confusion of ledges and riffles before settling down into a long, steady glide. The winds that swirled throughout the day had died out, and I marveled that it was late October in the Montana high country, and I was comfortable in shirt sleeves. The softening light fed the shadows in the forest around, drawing out the greens of the foliage on the far bank and of the water that flowed between me and it. The world seemed to slow and hush and I imagined unseen eyes upon me, this perfect pool a stage set by nature, awaiting an actor or jester only time would tell.
Several mayflies hovered over the water, and from the depths against the far bank I noticed first once, then again – brief bursts of silver, like a flash bulb popping – a fish darting and rolling to emergers. I tied on a sprout baetis behind my dry, and casting out across the water felt the unhurried pleasure of a rod loading and line unfurling then settling straight and gentle on the very place I’d been aiming. After several drifts a swirl appeared where I thought my emerger drifted, and I set to a fish that lent my three weight a generous bend.
Releasing it, I stood and stretched. Upstream of the island flowed another perfect pool, more mayflies lazily hovering, the dimple of a rise, but I wound in my line and turned down river, grateful for the book ends of my day, mindful to leave always wishing for more.