Finally, I'm able to wade in the river again! Hooray!
It was excellent fishing conditions for this time of year. Sixty degrees, over-cast, late afternoon. The river has been down for a long time, drought conditions in the river basin has kept the water low in the lakes. The river is almost clogged with moss in most places. Where the water is deeper the surface is open, but moss, the kind that reminds me of that stringy stuff we used to put on Christmas trees except it's bright green, coats the river bed almost everywhere.
The open spots in the moss indicate deeper water, making it easy to figure out where to fish. Well, you really can't fish anywhere else anyway because the moss is solid to the surface.
I waded into the water wearing shorts and sandles and the water is bone achingly cold. The water is crystal clear, moving softly with a mirror like surface. I slowly wade down to my favorite fishing spot, casting here and there as I go. My son is with me, wearing waders, obviously smarter than me. I love fishing with my son. He was smart enough to bring a flask of whisky too, which he shared. Twice as smart as me.
As I keep wading the water creeps up my legs, then down, then up again. I'm slowly adjusting to the cold, and by the time I get to the fishing hole I am no longer moaning and groaning, the bone ache has stopped and the water just feels extra cool.
I try a wooly bugger but it keeps collecting moss. I stand still and watch the water for a few minutes. Trees in fall color reflect from the almost mirror smooth surface. I see thousands of little white insects flying just above the surface, some kind of hatch is on. As I watch two fish far apart hit the surface, ripples spreading out and then disappearing down stream. I change to a foam grass-hopper. If they're hitting on the surface that works for me since I can avoid all the moss entanglement.
Dark clouds are scudding across the horizon, hiding the sun as it is steadily sinking towards the tree tops. We keep fishing, getting occasional small perch type hits, nothing big enough to take the bait in it's mouth. But who cares about catching fish, I'm out with my son, the water is nice and cool feeling, there's not a breath of wind. Clouds block the sun but begin to display an orangish red sunset directly in front of us down the river. It's gorgeous, framed by thick tree lined banks in fall colors.
Coyotes start howling nearby, a large pack of them. Some of the voices are deeper than we normally hear, maybe some coydogs in the pack. They howl and I cast, twitching the hopper ever so gently now and then. If I could paint - this is what I would want to paint, it's just too beautiful for words. I am content, beyond content - I am happy.
One more cast then time to head home. I float the hopper out there and it settles gently on the surface and starts to drift downstream with the light current. I give it a twitch and wait. Then another twitch. I see a bulge in the water about ten feet from the hopper, it's a v shape bulge, a fish just under the surface piling up water in front of his head. He heads straight to the hopper and takes it in a svage slash.
I set the hook and the fish runs back and forth, trying to get buried in the moss on either side, I pull left, then right, then left. He's putting up a good fight and finally outsmarts me and gets into the moss. I pull hard and out he comes and the fight is back on. For water this cold this fella is fighting like hell. When I get him out of the water he's a nice largemouth bass, about twelve to fourteen inches. I remove the hook and watch his dark back darting off up river.
When we get home I go straight in to the shower to run hot water on me. It feels good on my upper body and at first doesn't bother my legs. But then...then my legs turn bright red and start burning like they were being whipped by stinging nettles. Ouch! Doesn't take me long to get back out again.
I put on sweat pants and a sweat shirt and settle in the recliner with a big snifter of cognac and a good cigar, warm all over and comfortably tired. Another great day for the memory bank, I'll see that v bulge of water heading for that bait the rest of my life, and this day with my son is precious beyond words.
It really doesn't get better than that. I am so glad to be back fishing.