Its early, I wade upstream, behind me the sun is casting a warm golden light into the trees, amongst the green there are the first tinges of red and orange in the leaves. It won’t be long now and the big browns will move upstream into the shallow gravel runs ahead of the late autumn spawning. They will begin their spawning dance, surging and slipping sideways into each other; egg and milt meet and then settle in the safety of the gravel below – it is the sweet of the season.
It is that time of the year when I always find myself taking stock of my love of small mountain streams. Whilst there is something captivating in the diversity of fly fishing, there is none that floats my boat more than the high altitude streams. There are no places on these streams wider than a fair roll cast, and you don’t have to be a hot roll caster either, I’m not. Those I know are in places as pretty as you will find anywhere, the air, like the water is clear and cool, eagles soar in wide skies, the breezes carry the scents and sounds of nature, the nights are dark under a canopy of a million stars. The streams seem almost fragile, crystalline and intimate, where the bottom structure is clear, although there is the odd spot that is invitingly indistinct and fishy looking. Oh, of course, then there is that appealing matter of wild, fin perfect trout; small, but who’s measuring?
Like when the sun, moon and earth align and the gravitational pull is at its strongest, so is the urge to spends time in the mountains; the planning begins and I will soon be on my home waters, some well-known, others less so and maybe a few seldom visited by others, if at all – they are in places where the air is thin, a long hike from the closest road, in deep valleys below the escarpment, they are the tributaries of the main streams.
As John Geirach put it once, “Many of us have elevated fly fishing (especially our favourite kind) to the highest category of human endeavor; something we don’t have to explain unless we feel like it. Of course, if we do feel like explaining it, look out. We’re liable to start referring to it as an “art” and maybe even sit down and write a book or something.” Well, he may just have been describing me. Add to that, like him, I tend towards a contemplative backwoodsman self-image, the solitary type of few words (I’m not sure if the latter fits?) who fishes his secret spots and can rest a pool for as long as it takes.
It is the sweet of the season, the symbiosis of all I love about fly fishing.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2015. All rights reserved