I assembled the spey rod tonight for the first time since my Alaska trip. The sky was nearly as blue as the Alaska version, but that's where the similarities began and ended.
The Rocky River was flowing brown following the heavy rains that fell Sunday in front of cold front that seemed to finally end summer. No way I'd try to fish it with a single-handed rod, but it was looking good for swinging large streamers. That no one else agreed with me should have told me something.
I was pleased to find that I could easily shoot the line more than 30 yards across to the high bank on the far side of the Rocky. The slight breeze from the south was nothing like the gale winds on the Naknek River and more often then not the double-spey cast unfolded with ease.
Summer floods change the Rocky every year and this year is no different. Half of a small island upstream of the "first riffle" is now gone. A lone tree holds desperately to a clump of earth in mid-river, hoping to stay upright. One of its larger brethren lays on its side downstream. The old S-curve is gone, straightened by floods fueled by poorly designed developments upstream. The light stench of sewage reminds that poor design isn't new -- long ago storm sewers were designed to flow into the sanitary sewer. Heavy rains overwhelm the sanitary system, sending raw sewage and rain water into the Rocky (and many other rivers in the region). Despite decades of trying, our region's leaders still haven't figured out how to address the problem.
I've learned to ignore the less appealing aspects of urban fishing, and I focused on the jay hiding in the trees complaining about my presence. Overhead the setting sun illuminated feathers underneath the wings of a high-soaring red-tail hawk. A musk rat swam across the river. Families through stones into the torrent downstream. And I tried to remember what the tugs felt like on the Naknek.
For now I must rely on those memories. Soon enough I will feel the tug of an Ohio steelhead. Just not tonight.