The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Late night long drives or red-eyes equaling a thousand or so miles on the road, a few more thousand in the air, more still on the oars of my drift boat, and finally, even more zooming around the remote flats of northern Mexico in a panga, and now, I find myself at a keyboard desperately trying to relive drastically different places, fisheries, and a few moments that I don't want to forget.
As much as I love swinging a fly for steelhead, or the sound of a tarpon's gill plates grinding and chattering as it explodes out of the water, or watching a permit tip up to eat a crab (a first for me, more to come on that in a later post), I'd have to say that I feel most at home on a trout stream. And after the past couple of weeks, all of the great fishing with friends that I spent both close to home and far away, I was craving what got me started fly fishing in the first place: trout.
It's hard to say that we had much of a winter by typical Ohio standards. Despite the relative lack of snow and cold temperatures, November through March had their typical "lack of color." It's not something that you notice right away - and usually the "greyness" and darkness of a northeast Ohio winter are something I look forward to, as it coincides with some of my most cherished time on the water of the year. Still, after four long months, even the hardiest of fishermen begins to feel the wear of the cold, wind, and general dreariness.
When I stepped off the bank into a piece of water that is slowly becoming one of my favorites, something was distinctly different. As I walked down to the first run I wanted to fish, it struck me. The grey was gone, and despite the rain and overcast sky, the green and the woods and technicolor river bottom meant that spring had returned.
The fishing reflected that as well. The trout were more aggressive than they had been just a few short weeks ago, and the way that they chased with reckless abandon was their way of saying that the warm weather had them pretty excited too. Animals, fish or otherwise, are usually fairly poor at hiding their feelings. Another familiar face echoed that tone.
Although I only saw a handful of Hendricksons, their presence for many trout fishermen represents the true start of spring, and the beginning of a coveted series of hatches that can make up some of the best dry fly fishing of the year. Even though the trout weren't ready for them yet, just seeing a few of them dodging raindrops was enough, in my mind, to start spring on the stream.