Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Skipper at Dawn

There is nowhere I'd rather be at dawn than standing in a river. This morning was one of those cloudless mornings that can only be improved if the sun's rise could magically be slowed. As I walked across the frost-covered grass I looked up to see the countless stars in the sky. Along the eastern edge of the sky light blue was replacing the black paint on God's tapestry.

One angler stood at the head of the run swinging a white minnow fly to big males holding in the rapids behind the spawning females. I walked downstream to fish the deep hole at the end of the run. I was waiting for Terry to join me and hoping that despite the cold morning we'd find plenty of fish. But really, on a morning like this the fishing was secondary. The water temperature was still above 40, but just barely. The air temp was 32. And the flow was 300 cfs and falling.

Slowly orange light cut through the trees behind us and lit up the far bank across from us. Geese honked overhead. After Terry arrived I tried fishing the fast, green water above the hole at the end of the run. A porposing steelhead revealed itself and a few drifts later a skip jack smacked the white minnow fly and raced downstream. Skippers are year-old steelhead that have returned from the lake about 14 inches long and full of energy and excitement. They are the smallest steelhead in the river, but they often are the most eager to attack a fly and put up a spirited fight. They are also great to eat. But since work was at the other end of this fishing trip the skipper stayed in the river and I headed for downtown.

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